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A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary People, Alien Brains, and Quantum Resurrection Paperback – 27 Dec 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (27 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560259841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560259848
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,294,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

A Profiles in Courage for the creative set: As we leave the Information Age and enter the Conceptual Age, the most important people, and certainly the most interesting, will be those who create inventions that change our ways of life and break new ground

About the Author

Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of thirty-six highly acclaimed books on science, mathematics, art, and religion. His web site,, has received several million visits.

Customer Reviews

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By bubba free pittounikos TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Beginner's Guide to Immortality is a psychedelic experience without psychedelics. Like Terry Pratchett's novel, Mort, death needn't be morbid or even feared, instead, Pickover makes death and immortality entertaining and mind expanding Even if you don't buy into the hype of a technological paradise with batteries, this book is mind expanding indeed!
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A very easy book to read and I polished this one off in just 3 sittings. 3 sittings? You will see from my reviews of several Autobiographies that they were done and dusted in just one sitting. You cannot read this book like that. You need to have a pen and paper to hand, and you need a substantial break after each chapter to write down your thoughts and digest the work. This is great stuff. To be fair although Immortality is a theme that runs through the book, I do not believe it is the main theme - my feeling is this is rather a book of the Mind, its wonders and peculiarities, and as such it includes what must be some of history's most extraordinary people.
I will not spoil the read for you by giving a synopsis, but this book contains many gems. You will come across "The Epic of Gilgamesh" quite a lot - if you haven't read this, you should anyway. Also, there are sections on Quantum Immortality, some effects of (illegal) drugs, and a nice long discussion of "The Matrix" and its creators. Pen and paper at the ready - get reading!!!!
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The copy of the text that I was sold by Amazon is from Thunder's Mouth Press and is copyrighted 2007. The most striking thing about the book is that it lacks page 51. That page has not been printed. This is, therefore, an edition that should have been pulped - not sold on Amazon.
Apart from that the book is fine. Very interesting. But wrong about Capote. He was not a genius, just a narcissist. I wouldn't mind a few blank pages in his books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.3 out of 5 stars 15 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This heavy subject went down hard when Cliff tackled it but ther're both okay now. 29 Jan. 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on
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Another romp around a theme that might include amortality. The book is a collection of scientific thoughts on immortality and is heaping with great quotes to help get you thinking. Cliff suggested this book because I liked his Drugs, Sex, Einstein and Elves and it is almost as free flowing despite the gravity of the theme; it is an enjoyable read with many interesting tidbits and intriguing quotes sprinkled thoughout (especially those hidden at the end of the notes and references sections and one reference to spindle cells). In the "about the author" section, Cliff indicates that one of his next book topics will depend on reader response to a list: 1) Matrioshka Brains, 2) Carolingian Renaissance, 3) pareidolia and Marian apparitions, 4) Gram-schmidt orthonormalization, 5) Phyllodocida, 6) Turangalila, 7) factorion 40,585, 8) Egil Skallagrimsson, 9) aposiopesis and asyndeton in literature and life, 10) calipee, and 11) Olaf Sporns' connectome. I chose calipee. How about you?
3.0 out of 5 stars I didn't see what most reviewers did. 3 Oct. 2016
By M. Cunningham - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First you have to realize that this book doesn't really address much about Immortality. It shouldn't even be on the same book shelf as Stephen Cave's "Immortality:The Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilization." Second over 50 pages of the book are just various quotes. Clifford also references many of his other books essentially getting double use out of his writing. That said there's such a bricolage of diverse ideas in this book that there's something that will appeal to just about anyone. For example I found Clifford's discussion of evolution over intelligent design on pages 182-198 to be a nice and correct summation of the major issues.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun and Fascinating Read 3 Jan. 2007
By B Diddley - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished Pickover's book and like the way he bridges all sorts of different ideas, interspersed with great quotes form notables. For example, he weaves the lives of famous authors, Science Fiction Films, anthropologists, philosophers, scientists, mind altering drugs, mathematical equations into a fascinating and fun discovery of ideas and notions I never would have thought about. Particularly interesting are the strange, quirky and addictive habits and coincidences of highly creative people. As a non-academic, he made many topics easily accessible and a blast to read. I like the way he goes off on tangents, as they are always interesting. Any scientist who entertains notions of parallel universes, DMT ingestion, liver divination and intelligent design (to name a few) is OK in my book. Enjoy.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gardens of Gilgamesh 29 Jan. 2007
By Ray Erskins - Published on
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In "Sex, Drugs, Einstein & Elves" Cliff Pickover revealed a side of his personality that was well-camouflaged in his first thirty some-odd books on mathematics, time travel, fractals, aliens, patterns, puzzles, God, etc. Indeed, writing so many books in such a short time may be the root cause of his now irrepressible eclecticism. This latest effort, "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary People, Aliens Brains, and Quantum Resurrection," has many similarities to SDE&E. Not only is it written with an exuberance that complements the author's multi-dimensional perspective, the prose remains clear and accessible even as Pickover explores the complex reaches of transcendental reality.

One of the highlights of "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" is Chapter 3, "Gilgamesh, God, and the Language of Angels." Pickover confesses that the "Epic of Gilgamesh" is one of his deepest obsessions. And we get a feel for his zeal as he recounts the ancient Mesopotamian king's search for immortality. But there is also a lot of extraneous material in this chapter. It's a virtual Mind Salad of eclecticism. Pickover's brain is fizzing with ideas and impressions, perhaps as a result of his relentless work ethic and voracious reading habits, and they seem to inundate his consciousness as he writes. I find this stimulating. Others may differ, wishing instead for a simpler, more direct narrative line.

At his best, Pickover's mind is encyclopedic -- correction: it's Wikipedic! It's Google-alien! Who else would focus on "The Brain from Planet Arous" in a chapter about Truman Capote? But Pickover does, and it can be fascinating because you get a completely different mental picture once you exit Truman Capote's peculiar oeuvre and enter the zany universe of Fifties science-fiction flicks, of which Pickover is a connoisseur. He loves the movies themselves, but also their filmmakers and the whole idea that some P.T. Barnum showman could make some outrageous, low-budget, horror-show hokum with B-list actors and still turn a tidy profit.

But Pickover can also be deadly serious, and I find this quote from "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft, (which also appears in Chapter 3) to be quite haunting:

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We lie on the placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of disassociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

After reading "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" you may suspect that Cliff Pickover actually wants "the human mind to correlate all its contents." Which could be precisely what happens to the most intelligent human beings in the 21st Century anyway. If so, what he has to offer in this book should be of interest to the armchair existentialists. We all want to live forever. But then again, maybe not.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My brain is glowing 28 Jan. 2007
By E. E. Kuersten - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pickover knows just what to say to kickstart the parts of your brain you haven't even used yet. Reading this book is like taking a walking tour through the magical zone where your life and reality and history and b-movies intersect. Educational, hilarious, mind-blowing, engaging and full of zest and zing, Pickover punctuates his prose with trenchant quotes aplenty. The thing you learn quick when traveling in the Pickover realm is that your brain is always growing and learning, and there is no limit to how far we can go. This guy's also got a generous heart and spirit, you can feel it in the words he writes, and that sort of hawk-eyed optimism for a transcendental, trans-dimensional future is damned contagious. I read this book and I feel like whatever happens, the collective mass of DNA we call the world/self is gonna be not only fine but blazin'! Plus it's light (nice soft pages) and has cool purple cover, with a skull!
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