Freezing People Is (Not) Easy

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Select media coverage: U-T San Diego
Read more about the upcoming film starring Paul Rudd, Freezing People Is Easy
Listen to the This American Life segment about Bob and cryonics: Mistakes Were Made: You’re as Cold as Ice

Lyons Freezing People

Early Praise for Freezing People Is (Not) Easy:

“Nelson tells his side of the story with disarming wit and candor while providing an absorbing history of a still very controversial practice.”––Booklist

“Bob Nelson’s odyssey is a quintessential American story––a story about frontiers, exploration, and dreams. Part inventor, part futurist, part entrepreneur, Bob Nelson set out to show that death––even if could not be defied––could be challenged. A story of unexpected, unintended, and remarkable consequences. A rich morality tale. But ultimately, a story about how the seemingly far-fetched ideas of the past can become a vision of the future.”
Errol Morris, Academy Award-winning director

“I am not a physician or a scientist,” Bob Nelson says. “I was an electronics repairman for forty years.  Nevertheless, I was a pioneer in cryonics. No one had ever been frozen before with the hope of future reanimation, but I led the team that made the first suspension happen. I was confident enough to believe that it could be done and optimistic enough not to understand why it shouldn’t.”

Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the March 18, 2014 publication of FREEZING PEOPLE IS (NOT) EASY: My Adventures in Cryonics, by Bob Nelson with Kenneth Bly and Sally Magaña, PhD. (978-0-7627-9295-5; $26 hardcover).

After a childhood marked by deprivation and abuse, Nelson married his high-school sweetheart and became a TV repairman. Chancing upon a book, The Prospect of Immortality, changed his life’s trajectory: he became fascinated by cryonics, a process in which the body temperature is lowered during the beginning of the dying process to keep the brain intact. The ultimate goal is to reanimate the patient at a later date, when a cure for his or her disease has been discovered.

Working in coalition with a biophysicist, in 1967 Nelson orchestrated the freezing of Dr. James Bedford, the first human to be placed in cryonic suspension. Soon thereafter he began freezing others who sought his help, obtaining special capsules and an underground vault.

At the height of his influence, Nelson was featured in Life magazine and told his story on TV with Regis Philbin and Phil Donohue. But as he learned the hard way, freezing people is not easy. A series of financial and technological obstacles led to tragic results. Despite dipping into his own savings and taking extraordinary measures to keep his patients in a frozen state, Nelson found himself on the losing side of a half million dollar lawsuit.

“I aimed high and flew high, believing that the wonder of preserved life was within my grasp,” Nelson says. “But I fell hard and far. I spent the next twenty-five years in self-imposed exile from cryonics. I was largely silent and allowed other people to vilify me. I haven’t told my full story to correct history…until now. Through those years, I had an incredible journey.  No one else can tell this story.

Bob Nelson was the founder and president of the first Cryonics Society of California. He froze the first man in 1967 and was an electronics repairman for many years. He is now retired and lives in San Diego County.

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