Below is my 2019 feature in Quartz about the business of immortality. If you’re a Quartz member you can also read it here.




Further reading on this topic:

What to read

Nonfiction books

Fiction books

The topic of immortality has inspired centuries of writers whose imaginative books grapple with the ethical and moral consequences of chasing eternal life. Here’s your reading list:

  • The Epic of Gilgamesh (21st century BC), an ancient Mesopotamian tale about a king’s journey to find an immortal man and learn the secrets to eternal life.

  • Eos and Tithonus” (8th century BC), a Greek myth that ponders the pain of living in perpetuity.

  • Gulliver’s Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift, in which the hero visits an island where people can age, but do not die.

  • The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890) by Oscar Wilde, about a man who remains young and beautiful while his portrait ages.

  • Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker, the ultimate undead tale.

  • Peter Pan (1902) by J.M. Barrie, the bittersweet story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up. (The 2003 film is also great.)

  • The Jameson Satellite” (1931) by Neil R. Jones, a short story that inspired many in the cryonics movement.

  • After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939) by Aldous Huxley, a satirical novel that follows a Hollywood mogul’s attempts to outwit death.

  • Tuck Everlasting (1975) by Natalie Babbit, about a young girl who discovers a spring that bestows eternal youth upon those who drink from it.

  • The Harry Potter (1997) series by J.K. Rowling, in which the chief antagonist, Voldemort, goes to great lengths to achieve immortality, and which features the real-life alchemist Nicholas Flamel.

  • Eternal Life (2018) by Dara Horn, about a woman who cannot die.

Articles

What to watch

TED and other talks

The silver screen

Odds and ends

If you want to get in on the action:

Multimedia options:

  • Listen to this The Why Factor podcast episode on immortality, and the This American Life episode on the Chatsworth Scandal, wherein nine cryonics “patients” were found rotting in an underground crypt.

  • Download WeCroak, the app that reminds you you’re going to die.

  • Follow Tad Friend, the New Yorker writer who wrote the immortality feature we recommended above, and the NIH for updates on aging research. And follow along with me @sangeetaskurtz.