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Blueprints of the Afterlife Paperback – January 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat; Original edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170910
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Boudinot returns to the comic, inventive form that garnered him attention for Misconception (2009), this time anticipating dark times to come. Set in the not-too-distant future, where the recent past is known as the Age of Fucked Up Shit, the novel introduces a world colonized by clones, computers, and free-roaming polar bears, and where Manhattan is being fully reconstructed in Seattle. Dishwasher Woo-jin Kan, a self-aware dullard suffering from a crippling overabundance of empathy, is haunted by a reappearing corpse. Mysterious Dirk Bickle offers Abby Fogg a job recovering important data from one-time pop star Kylee Asparagus and her subservient team of clones. Veteran Al Skinner recalls his bloody war experiences. Narcissistic actor Nethan Jordan recounts his adventures in a bawdy hit TV series. And running throughout are excerpts from a recorded interview with Luke Piper, creator of the Bionet, a neurotransmitted Web connection that unites everyone in all their uproarious despair. Boudinot’s madcap world and mastery of various voices evoke Douglas Adams or George Saunders, but his novel is a work of sheer originality, readability, and joy. --Jonathan Fullmer

Review

Praise for Blueprints of the Afterlife

“A fierce literary imagination, building the kinds of worlds that William Gibson used to write before he discovered the present; it is warmed by the kind of offbeat, riffing humor that has suffused the works of Neal Stephenson and Gary Shteyngart, with Chuck Palahniuk’s cartoonish gore and Neil Gaiman’s creepy otherworlds blended in. . . . Duct-tape yourself to the front of this roller coaster and enjoy the ride.”—John Schwartz, The New York Times

“What an inspired mindfuck of a book. Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife is a post-apocalyptic satirical explosion of a novel. . . . Fans of China Mieville, Kurt Vonnegut, and, say, Terry Gilliam may gravitate toward Boudinot, but his out-of-control imagination is all his own.”—Andrea Appleton, Baltimore City Paper

“The best science fiction takes what we know about technology and humanity and extends it. . . . Blueprints of the Afterlife does just this—only instead of space stations and robots, [Boudinot] clocks the way our perceptions and experiences have already been shaped by technology. . . . Blueprints calls to mind Jonathan Lethem’s recent Chronic City and the work of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, as much as it does sci-fi predecessors like Philip K. Dick or even Cory Doctorow. But while it's plenty easy to find other novels to compare Blueprints to, the book offers a completely singular reading experience.”—Alison Hallett, The Portland Mercury

“Digital where Brave New World is merely analog, Blueprints of the Afterlife makes both 1984 and the Book of Revelation seem like yesterday's news.”—Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

“Boudinot’s novel . . . has a diverse and rich family of ingredients. We might speak of certain literary components, such as the work of Kurt Vonnegut, the work of Richard Brautigan, the work of Tom Robbins, and/or the work of Haruki Murakami. . . . A mere description of ingredients, however, fails to take into account the transformative process of reading Blueprints of the Afterlife, whose howls of dissatisfaction with what American culture is (for such is almost all speculative fiction) are kaleidoscopic, provocative, in-your-face, restless, sad. . . . Blueprints of the Afterlife, somewhat in the style of the earlier novels of Thomas Pynchon, also has a manifest content that is often unpredictable, imaginative, and bittersweet, and a latent content . . . which is there for the perusal of those who take their time. . . . To read this novel is to feel keenly the dystopian future, especially the digital future of the Pacific Northwest; to be entertained and delighted; to be driven down into successive layers of complication and paradox, each more satisfying than the last.”—Rick Moody, The Believer

“Take every high voltage future-shock you can imagine about life as it’s shaping up in the twenty-first century, process it through one of the smartest and funniest and weirdly compassionate sensibilities you’ll find on this crazy planet at this crazy moment, and you get a novel named Blueprints of the Afterlife. This guy Ryan Boudinot is the WikiLeaks of the zeitgeist.”—Robert Olen Butler, author of Hell

“Ryan Boudinot . . . writes like the bastard son of Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs and Aldous Huxley. . . . Blueprints is both dire prophecy and biting commentary on the modern world.”—Josh Davis, Time Out New York

“The novel hilariously dumps pop culture into a blender with futurism and presses purée.”—Anne Saker, The Oregonian

Blueprints of the Afterlife exists in a shining lineage that extends right back ultimately to William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, the novel that taught us all how to conflate esoteric conspiracy theory with history with lowbrow pop culture with surrealism and absurdity with transgressive assaults on propriety and the bourgeoisie. . . . Boudinot’s novel, with near-Neal Stephensonian intricacy and panache, is a brave attempt to forecast the ‘afterlife’ subsequent to our culture’s imminent, nigh-inevitable collapse. Yet it’s no preachy tract, but rather a glorious carnival of errors, terrors, and numinous possibilities.”—Paul Di Filippo, Barnes & Noble Review

Blueprints of the Afterlife is chewy with a delighted disgust, and suggests those myths of the near future—to adopt JG Ballard's trope—that are really truths about right now.”—Will Self, author of The Book of Dave and Walking to Hollywood

“An ambitious book in the spirit of Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace … Boudinot’s short stories are dense, acerbic little gems, but Blueprints is the first glimpse we get at the loopy, sci-fi-nerd-fueled landscape he’s had inside his brain all this time.”—Paul Constant, The Stranger

“There’s a brilliant aliveness to this book, a joyful throwing together of extrapolated pop culture, really cool ideas about medicine and technology, a preapocalyptic vision of the current world and a bizarrely livable postapocalyptic afterworld, and a near total lack of genre boundaries. . . . It’s hard to describe, but it’s easy to read, easy to get involved with. . . . Do not fight this book: Let it take you where it’s going, and let it show you what it wants to show you. You’ll be glad you did.”—Samantha Holloway, New York Journal of Books

“A mind-bending tour of the edges of technology and possibility . . . densely imagined, frightening and hilarious.”—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

“Ryan Boudinot . . . is my new favorite author. . . . Blueprints of the Afterlife reads a bit like a genetic graft between David Foster Wallace’s The Broom of the System and Mark Leyner’s My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. Blueprints of the Afterlife is a book that I will unequivocally press into the hands of any who approach me for a recommendation in 2012.” —Mark Flanagan, About.com Contemporary Literature

“It is incredibly fun to watch Ryan Boudinot unspool his cool, twisted imagination in Blueprints of the Afterlife. Someone should warn him not to give away fantastic ideas at the frantic rate he does. But then again, he might have an infinite supply.”—Steve Hely, author of How I Became a Famous Novelist

“I figured I would like the book. I didn’t figure it would be as expansive, as imaginative, as powerful, and as quaking as it is. Seriously. It’s awesome.”—Matthew Simmons, HTMLGiant

“Wildly imaginative, smart, funny, and hopefully not prophetic, Blueprints of the Afterlife brings to mind Vonnegut, and finds Boudinot at the top of his game as a young writer to watch.”—Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here

“Ryan Boudinot once again proves himself as one of America's most talented young writers. . . . Dark, funny, and smart, this post-apocalyptic dystopian book is as complex as it is original and entertaining.”—Largehearted Boy (online)

“[A] blistering wunderkammer. . . .The world has, once again, come to an end, but if that’s become a cliché, Ryan Boudinot seems to have flung his arms in the air and yelled let ‘em come.”—Ashley Crawford, 21C Magazine (online)

“What happens when the technology we unleash through the Internet becomes our physical reality, and we become its content? . . . The sheer imagination with which Boudinot’s tale unwinds is stunning. . . . You could orgasm with laughter.”—Alle C. Hall, PLOP! Blog (online)

“Boudinot goes all in with a Murakami-inspired fit of speculative madness that marries the postmodernist streak of Neal Stephenson to the laconic humor of The Big Lebowski. . . . Challenging, messy and funny fiction for readers looking for something way beyond space operas and swordplay.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The absurdities are cleverly crafted and highly entertaining. Imaginative [and] heartfelt.”—Hannah Calkins, Shelf Awareness (online)

“Ingenious… frenzied, hilarious, and paranoid. . . A bracing dystopian romp through contemporary dread.”—Publishers Weekly

“Ryan Boudinot's Blueprints of the Afterlife is probably the strangest post-apocalyptic novel in ages.”—io9 (online)

“Boudinot infuses the story with . . . humor that recalls Philip K. Dick.”—Ron Hogan, USA Character Blog (online)

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Customer Reviews

This is a fun book and a quick read.
Paul D. Cavanaugh
The social and political commentary and satire is very contemporary, scathing and true to life.
Robert M. Koretsky
The rest of the story arcs in this novel, however, left me lost and confused.
John Olivares

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Miller on December 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
Blueprints of the Afterlife is a carefully constructed and fully detailed account of dire future events, how they all got started, who started them, as well as the end of the human race. It's not your typical Armageddon/dystopia story though. It's a well-paced novel that drew me in with seemingly flesh-and-blood characters living in a world I could almost see by reading the words on the page. The people living in this world aren't much different than the people living today, and a few contemporary commodities remain, but the society they live in is a worst-case-scenario distortion of the faults and obsessions of the contemporary world.

The sparsely-populated world is confined to a few remaining metropolitan areas, where citizens live in a kind of cultural and physical squalor. Menial jobs have world champions, reality entertainment really has gone too far, people and technology exist biologically together, cloning is a common and accepted practice, and organ cultivation is a day job. Not only that, companies once had armies and made their own weapons. One of my take-aways from this book is that it's a kind of warning about what could happen if our current society continues down our reckless and narcissistic path.

This is the best recently-published book that I've read this year. I'd recommend reading it with a group or another person who would be open to discussion. Ryan Boudinot leaves us with a lot to talk about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wombat the Bookworm on November 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Blueprints is a strange book, non-linear and bewildering. It tells the story of the fall of civilization in a war between humans and robots, but also of a monstrous glacier that traveled around North America, ripping cities up wholesale, and of a secret cabal that maybe made it happen on purpose. And there’s a weird guy who calls himself “the curator” and shows up everywhere. And there are clones. That’s just the start.

A few thoughts:

Blueprints of the Afterlife challenges you to piece together its narrative, a task made more difficult by the jumbled up way you encounter the story. There’s also the possibility, suggested by a couple elements in the book, that all of this is not a depiction of the post-apocalypse world, but perhaps a review of its records.
This book is scattered through with neat extrapolations of tomorrow into the future. Perhaps the most disturbing is BioNet, an extension of networked body implants (like Dick Chaney’s pacemaker) that become a drug, a tool for abuse, and perhaps cause the collapse of civilization.
I laughed at the throw-away notion that when the world goes to s***, all corporations will become gun manufacturers, meaning that in the future, people will have Coke-a-cola brand pistols and Dell Sawed-Off Shotguns. There’s also a great sequence with a houseful of clones of the same man. ‘Nuff said.
Several points in the book suggest a connection between technology and evolution, that networked human brains, or thinking machines equivalent (and probably superior) to our meat brains are a likely future invention. One character suggests that each leap forward in technological progress represents an evolutionary leap for us.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Oria S. Bjorklund on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Have you ever read a book and realized it perfectly crystallizes the feeling of the times? Of everything I've read over the last decade (and a lot of change) of my adult life, this book is the only one I finished and immediately wondered if this was our "1984", our "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"; a book that defines the angst of a generation entertainingly enough that you want to wallow in it. Something big that will be remembered and discussed, a gleaming nugget of the bizarre profundity that will someday grace the reading list of some twisted and dystopic English program decades from now- tirelessly dodging book burnings to teach the readers of tomorrow about what it felt like to live in this time of over-abundant cynicism, looming doom and secret, distant hope. It is a personal disaster that none of my friends have read this book yet; I NEED to talk about this book with somebody.

I'd love to give you a synopsis, but it's not often I read a book this difficult to describe. The plot is impossible to pin down, the themes take the course of the novel to slowly reveal themselves, the ending is inscrutable and mind-blowing. It is a huge metaphor built from straining contradictions- profane and profound, despairingly hopeful, depressingly hilarious. Imagine if "Blade Runner" and "The Never Ending Story" had a secret love child that grew up and met the offspring of "Dark City" and "Inception"- their love child in turn would be this book. Stop reading this and go read that right now!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jack Gillibrand on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Those of us, I say with no small amount of pride, who have actually made it all the way through still-can't-believe-he's-gone David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest know that its greatness is inextricably intertwined with how infuriating it is--part of the point is that there is no point, no tidily wrapped up explanation to its overwhelmingly intricate plot. That great, era-defining tome is a high-wire act, a literary quadruple lutz, that only a (mad?) genius like Wallace could have pulled off. Excellent writers in his wake have picked up mere kernels of his ideas and run with them, like George Saunders' darkly funny, jargony tales from our future Idiocracy, Gary Shteyngart's bitter and haunting dystopias, or David Eggers' infinitely self-critical yet staggeringly moving works; it's as if they acknowledge that to take on the entirety of the Jest agenda is a losing battle, and would inevitably pale in comparison. Blueprints of the Afterlife, for better or for worse, has its eyes on the Jest prize, and while it's fun, funny, pointed, surreal and disturbing, it's a 5 on the Richter Scale of books where Infinite Jest is a 9.5: exciting while it's happening, but with nowhere near the same impact.

Part of the problem is that the prose can be a mixed bag. For every delightfully-oddball-yet-I-totally-get-what-he-means turn of phrase ("after a shower of confusing shampoos") there are eye-rolling, awkward attempts at Saunders-isms ("a hallway lined with art he didn't have the patience to glom on to brain-wise"), those two from the same page.
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