Wednesday, February 06, 2013

review: blueprints of the afterlife

Always, without fail, Bunny gives me a book for Christmas. I like to read and he likes to encourage my reading. He's come up with some real winners in the past; creating my Christopher Moore obsession and tailoring choices to my interest. The real criteria he uses, though, is to get me something I'll like and wouldn't have chosen myself.

Ryan Boudinot's Blueprints of the Afterlife fits that bill entirely. It's part science fiction, part post apocalyptic, part philosophical commentary and a total mindf*ck. The writing style reminds me of Neal Stephenson, particularly his early work. (This definitely isn't as dense as Reamde was!) It's based on life on earth, after what's called the FUS, short for the F*cked Up Sh*t. There are five or so completely distinct character arcs and plotlines that at first seem completely unrelated, to the point that they feel like they could be coming from completely different worlds. Different post apocalyptic nightmares. Except they're all the same. Unless they're not?

Clones, "newman"s, a bionet (which is basically the internet, but in our bodies), quantum computers, religious and metaphysical implications, wars fought by corporations extraterrestrial intelligence, slaves who don't know that they're slaves, the ability to upload, download and erase memories. It's a smorgasbord of sci fi ideas and it's knit together beautifully. Two of the character lines in particular, Abby Fogg and Luke Piper, were beautifully engaging, though I have a feeling that those were simply the plotlines I related to most and that other people might enjoy some of the other lines more.

This is one of those books that you keep thinking about after you've finished, where you go back and re-read chapters partway through just to make sure you understood correctly. I'll be reading this again because I want to understand this book completely, and I don't quite. Which (I think) is somewhat the point.

There's a pretty broad appeal here. I know what would have caught Bunny's attention was the post-apocalyptic leanings, but it would also appeal to sci fi fans, philosophers and just about any lover of a good engaging story. It's heavy stuff and it's worth every second you spend reading it.

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