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I read this in the 80s, but it might have been from the 70s. Our hero agrees to swap bodies with some rich, unhealthy slob, to pay his debts (or he lost a bet, or was tricked, something like that).

The theme/moral of it was that a few months later, his original body had become fat, diseased, unhealthy, etc. while his inherited body was now getting lean and fit.

It is not Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson, Book featuring body swapping as a world norm, as apparently that was published in 2002, whereas the very latest I could've read this, even if my memory is more unreliable than usual, would be the early 90s. Otherwise it sounds similar!

I'm also fairly sure it is not Mindswap by Robert Sheckley, as I don't remember the off-world or remote aspect: the two people swapping were in the same room, strapped in chairs.

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  • 15
    Rimmer and Lister did it on Red Dwarf!
    – Danny Mc G
    Oct 30, 2019 at 13:13
  • I'm pretty sure there was an episode of Tales from the Crypt where this happened.
    – nomen
    Oct 30, 2019 at 22:06

4 Answers 4

40

The story "Chateau d'If", first published as "New Bodies for Old", by Jack Vance has the hero, Roland Mario, tricked into a body exchange (which he actually has to pay $8000 for) by the promise of adventure. "New Bodies for Old" was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1950 and you can read it at the Internet Archive.

The titular body exchange parlor sells young bodies (the story only shows men) to rich older men who pay dearly - 10 million dollars - for the privilege.

The body exchange parlor is set up with 2 chairs whose occupants' minds are swapped, though the ones who are tricked are sedated before being put in the chair, and they are dumped out on the street before they wake up.

Roland, who has kept his body in good shape, is swapped into the body of a fat, out-of-shape industrialist, one Ralston Ebery. As part of coping with the swap he puts a fair bit of effort into getting his body back into shape.

When he finally encounters his former body he notes how it has already gotten out of shape and started to go to fat.

Other than being out of shape his body isn't diseased, but disease does pay a major part in the story. Ditmar, one of Roland's circle of friends, is a previous client/victim of Chateau d'If who was given a body with advanced cirrhosis. If he can recruit 6 clients, he will earn a swap out of his diseased body. Chateau d'If's receptionist, Thane Paren, is working to earn a healthy body for her brother after he was similarly swapped into a diseased body. Also, although not the result of a swap, Letya Arnold, the chief researcher at the industrialist's company is also coping with a terminally illness.

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  • Chateau d'If was my first thought on reading the question +1- you beat me to it :)
    – Alith
    Oct 30, 2019 at 15:23
  • That sounds exactly like it - thanks!! Oct 30, 2019 at 15:24
  • A Vance story I haven't read! +1 to question and answer, thanks to both. And a collection, too - "The Narrow Land" Oct 30, 2019 at 17:35
  • @OrganicMarble The title story is quite good too. Looks like it's been asked about here a couple of times.
    – DavidW
    Oct 31, 2019 at 2:13
  • Thanks! I looked at the table of contents, recognized some but not all of the titles. Oct 31, 2019 at 2:27
9

The story is not exactly the same, but the ending somewhat resembles that of "Fat Farm" by Orson Scott Card.

Except that there the fat bodies are many, as the "customer" keeps getting new clone bodies and fatten them, unaware that the discarded bodies still hold a copy of his consciousness. In the end, the jailer of the discarded bodies turns out to be the first, now reasonably trimmed down, original body.

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  • This is the one I thought of, though I was not sure of the author (and I have probably read the Vance twice). Nov 1, 2019 at 7:36
4

Although a different medium, the 1978 movie Heaven Can Wait sounds similar.

Our hero agrees to swap bodies with some rich, unhealthy slob, ...

Professional athlete Joe Pendleton dies and his soul is put back into the body of a rich industrialist. Part of the movie is dedicated to Joe trying to turn this other body into that of an athlete.

... to pay his debts (or he lost a bet, or was tricked, something like that)

Not quite tricked; Joe wasn't destined to die until later. By the time the error was discovered in heaven, his body had been cremated - necessitating the need for a new body.

The theme/moral of it was that a few months later, his original body had become fat, diseased, unhealthy, etc. while his inherited body was now getting lean and fit.

This isn't a match. While Joe's new body has become athletic, his old body had been cremated.

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    See also: Simpsons Treehouse of horror XXX (episode 666) - this year's episode, where they do a spoof of this story.
    – Baldrickk
    Oct 31, 2019 at 11:17
  • The 1978 movie was a remake of a 1940's movie named Here Comes Mr. Jordan, which was based on a stage play named Heaven Can Wait.
    – GreenMatt
    Nov 1, 2019 at 15:00
1

This is one of the elements of Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates(1983), where an athlete in Regency England suffers an involuntary body-swap with the antagonist.

The antagonist ingested poison before the swap, which complicates things. By quick action, the victim survives and spends much effort building up the body in which he is stuck.

A dissimilarity, though: the victim did NOT recall the events clearly, I recall no two-chairs-in-a-room scene.

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