Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for The Price of Immortality by Peter Ward and published by Melville House.

This is part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Melville House. They are an independent publisher located in Brooklyn, New York with an office in London. It was founded in 2001 by sculptor Valerie Merians and fiction writer/journalist Dennis Johnson, in order to publish Poetry After 9/11, a book of material culled from Johnson’s groundbreaking MobyLives book blog. The material consisted of things sent into the blog by writers and poets in response to the 9/11 attacks, and Johnson and Merians felt it better represented the spirit of New York than the call to war of the Bush administration.

Melville House is also well-known for its fiction, with two Nobel Prize winners on its list: Imre Kertesz and Heinrich Boll. In particular, the company has developed a world-wide reputation for its rediscovery of forgotten international writers — its translation of a forgotten work by Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone, launched a world-wide phenomenon. The company also takes pride in its discovery of many first-time writers — such as Lars Iyer (Spurious), Tao Lin (Shoplifting from American Apparel), Jeremy Bushnell (The Weirdness) and Christopher Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) — all of whom have gone on to greater success.


About the Book

In the tradition of Jon Ronson and Tim Wu, an absorbing and revelatory journey into the American Way of Defying Death

As longevity medicine revolutionizes the lives of many older people, the quest to take the next step—to live as long as we choose—has spurred a scientific arms race, funded by Big Tech and Silicon Valley, in search of the elixir of life. Once the stuff of Mesopotamian mythology and episodes of Star Trek, as the pace of technological progress quickens, proposals to make humans immortal are becoming increasingly credible. It has also empowered a wild-eyed fringe of pseudo-scientists, tech visionaries, scam-artists, and religious fanatics who have given their lives to the pursuit of immortality.

Peter Ward’s The Price of Immortality is a probing, deeply reported, nuanced — and sometimes very funny — exploration of the current state of the race for immortality and an attempt to sort the swindlers from the scientists, while also analyzing the potentially devastating consequences should humanity realize its ultimate dream. Starting off at the Church of Perpetual Life in Florida and exploring the feuding subcultures around the nascent cryonics industry that first emerged in the wake of World War 2, Ward immerses himself into an eccentric world of startups, scientific institutions, tech billionaires and life-extension conferences, in order to find out if immortality is within our grasp, and what the cost might be if we choose to take what some people think is the next step in human evolution.

About the Author

Author Photo

Peter Ward is a British business and technology reporter whose reporting has taken him across the globe. Reporting from Dubai, he covered the energy sector in the Middle East before earning a degree in business journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His writing has appeared in Wired, The Atlantic, The Economist, GQ, BBC Science Focus, and Newsweek.

My Review

Who wants to live forever? sings Freddie Mercury in the Queen song. But who does? I grew up knowing that getting your three score and ten in was a good thing, but thanks to modern healthcare people are living way beyond that. But in the end, there is always death, it is as inevitable as taxes and your computer crashing.

There are people out there who do not think that death is for them. They are seeking that elusive and magic elixir of life that they will hope will give them that chance of immortality. What technology and medical advances are there out there that people are hoping might solve the problem. In this book, Peter Ward tries to find out where the money is and to see if it is actually going to work.

He begins this journey at the appropriately named Church of Perpetual Life. This organisation is not a Christian organisation but rather they describe themselves as a science faith-based church. Its members are drawn from all over the place but they all have the desire to live for a long time. They know that they can’t avoid death at the moment, but some want to live until they are 150 in the hope that as yet uninvented technologies will be available to help them live longer again.

For those that aren’t going to live that long, they are hoping that cryonics will mean that their bodies or just their heads can be preserved to be resurrected at some indeterminate point in the future. The technique has been around for a long while, but strangely enough, no one knows if it will actually work…

Ward takes us through all of these different techniques. Some of them sound plausible and based on strong science such as research into other animals that have extraordinarily long lives. There are other techniques that seem to be pedalled by charlatans and snake oil salesmen that stand more chance of shortening your life.

I thought that this was a fascinating and informative read about the search for immortality, He is open to hearing what these people have to say and tries to find out why they are seeking this path. He takes a rational look at the house of smoke and mirrors that is this industry, going in with an open mind and presenting the facts. He acknowledges that we can make people live longer with much better health care and details some of the differences in the state for those wealthy enough to have cover to pay for their medical bills. He has a great writing style, and this makes it an easy read for a complex subject. Well worth reading


Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour

Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here

My thanks to Nikki Griffiths for the copy of the book to read.

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