The novel centers around a man living a comfortable existence in the pretty distant future. To support himself, he is occasionally asked to enter a box which will copy his entire body, and send it out faster than the speed of light to some developing world, to work.

His copy on this world wakes up and realizes what a big mistake he's made. The copy does grueling work, feels lonely, and eventually just dies of radiation sickness. Back on earth, the man never realizes how bad it is out there, and keeps sending out more copies.

I think the story is probably 80s or earlier - not sure if it's a short story, or the beginning of a novel which I lost & never finished.

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    I remember one where the man is decadent and eventually, as a fat and prematurely-aged man he goes to a place where they put him in a machine and he comes out brand new... to live his decadent life again. Turns out they're cloning him, and the original is sent to do manual labor in a farm camp... run by a cruel man who turns out to be... the original him. Sure it's not this? – Wayne Mar 1 '14 at 2:01

This could be Farthest Star by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. That book definitely has the concept of sending out copies as a means of travelling faster than light, and at least one of the copies dies of radiation sickness. Other copies, though, do survive, and in fact send out copies of their own.

One point that might help to clinch the identification is that in that book, the main character (or his copies) developed the habit of giving himself a new middle name each time he finds himself in a new copy.

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    The first part of "Farthest Star" was put out as "Doomship" in 1973. In that part, everyone dies setting up the platform for the station that apparently forms the basis for the other half of Farthest Star. He's probably remembering that story. – Oldcat Nov 8 '13 at 17:55

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