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Afterparty Hardcover – April 22, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2014: Lyda Rose and her colleagues had the best intentions: to create a drug that would cure schizophrenia. Instead, she's in a mental hospital, saddled with a permanent hallucination of a doctor with angel's wings. When a newly admitted teenaged girl commits suicide rather than deal with withdrawal, Lyda recognizes the symptoms and realizes that her drug has hit the streets. She arranges her own release, helps her lover (a paranoid ex-government agent) break out of the hospital, and tries to find out where the drug is coming from. Combining elements of near-future science fiction, cyber-thriller, and whodunit mystery, Daryl Gregory takes us on a pulse-racing, brain-bending adventure that reads like the enthusiastic retelling of a crazy acid trip--twisted and imaginative and frightening and funny and intense. Along the way we investigate drug-pushing churches, we double-cross a gang run by ruthless old ladies, we team up with Native American smugglers, we dodge a split-personality urban rancher, and perhaps most dangerous of all, we try to track down Lyda's old scientific team in search of answers. --Robin A. Rothman
“Wickedly clever entertainment.” ―SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle) on Pandemonium
“Part superhero fiction, part zombie horror story, and part supernatural thriller, this luminous and compelling tale deserves a wide readership beyond genre fans.” ―Library Journal, starred review, on Raising Stony Mayhall
“A quietly brilliant second novel. . . . A wide variety of believable characters, a well-developed sense of place and some fascinating scientific speculation will earn this understated novel an appreciative audience among fans of literary SF.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review, on The Devil's Alphabet
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Top Customer Reviews
So that is the very basic storyline here but there is so much more that is difficult to put into words. There were time I thought I went back in time while staying in the future, yet feel odd no matter where I was. Gregory has created a true mindscrew. The scariest part was that I could relate to several of the schizophrenic characters, maybe that is saying too much about me and my past?
There were time that I had no idea what was happening, thinking that some one in the office spiked the coffee. There were time were I had to stop listening to get solid footing in reality. There were times I was on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding. You need to listen to Afterparty if you want a truly original science fiction thrill ride.
Audiobook purchased by reviewer.
The ripped-from-tomorrow’s headlines stuff about designer drugs’ being printed by everyman in the church storeroom didn’t interest me as much as it seems to interest other people. I mean, yeah, that’s gonna happen. What’s more fun to consider (and Gregory does) is the leveling potential. (Also, you might consider re-balancing your portfolio if you own a lot of Big Pharma.) In the end, the most profound question posed by “Afterparty” is not really whether God is just a manifestation of brain chemistry but whether it matters.
Afterparty's protagonist is Lyda Rose, who begins the novel as a patient in a mental health institution. Lyda's issues include a history of drug abuse, unresolved grief for her dead wife, and an invisible companion. A teenage girl is admitted to the institution who had been living rough on the street until she found God, a discovery that followed her ingestion of a piece of paper that Pastor Rudy called Numinous. Lyda holds herself responsible for Numinous and she holds Numinous responsible for a very bad moment in her life, although her memory of that moment is incomplete.
Numinous was created by Little Sprout, a research company that Lyda and her friends founded to develop a drug that would spur the brain's production of neurotrophins with the goal of correcting the conditions that cause schizophrenia. A side effect of the drug makes the user believe in some version of God. It also makes the user feel God's presence, often accompanied by a visual image -- in Lyda's case, an angel. Overdose, as Lyda did, and the visual image never goes away. Since Lyda is an atheist, a drug that induces a belief in God is supremely annoying to her, as is the sarcastic and quarrelsome angel. Tellingly, a child born to a character who used Numinous while pregnant experiences manifestations that have little to do with religion.
The engaging story requires Lyda to reestablish contact with her partners in Little Sprout. With the help of a paranoid schizophrenic (and former intelligence officer) named Olivia who befriended Lyda in the mental institution, Lyda tries to track down the drug's manufacturer. A mysterious and dangerous man in a cowboy hat named the Vincent also has an interest in Numinous. Of course, the explanation for the reappearance of Numinous is not as simple as it appears to be. Neither is the explanation of the mysterious event from Lyda's past. All the plot threads eventually weave together to create a fun, fast-moving story.
Despite its lighthearted nature, Afterparty considers serious questions. Is free will an illusion? Moral judgment aside, are we responsible for our actions? Do religions demand a belief in illusions? Is it possible for the imaginary to be real? Are illusions useful? Is religion (as Marx suggested) a metaphorical drug? Gregory allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions to questions that are not easily answered. Among its other lessons, Afterparty makes the point that the mind is capable of conjuring all sorts of realities and that we often lack the ability to decide which are objectively real, or even to understand whether objective reality exists. Perhaps the novel's most important lesson is that it is possible to disagree about profound issues -- even about religion -- without being rude.