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WesternSFA
Afterparty
by Daryl Gregory
Tor, $26.99, 302pp
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
This lovely story attacks a subject dear to my heart: why do we believe in gods?

In this story, drugs have permeated society to a dreadful extent; everyone uses something or more than one something. People’s careers can depend on a certain drug. And just about anyone can make a drug with a 3D-type of scanner.

Lyda Rose resides in an institution for the mentally ill but once she was a scientist and part of a group that invented a truly new drug. And that’s the reason she’s in there – due to an overdose she now sees an angel…always. Apparently, the drug opens your mind to see God, in whatever form he or she may take. For reasons unknown to Lyda, she and her co-scientists were all exposed to an overdose. After a suicide by a young girl who apparently took the same drug, Lyda believes one of them has started fabricating the drug again and the repercussion – to the whole world – will be disastrous. With the help of another addict, she breaks out of the institution and starts a hunt for the one responsible.

From there it’s a standard thriller and mystery but the background is anything but standard. All sorts of questions come up about the nature of God and our relationship with him or her. Lyda believes society will crumble if everyone carries around their own personal god in their head. For Lyda, it’s been years of hell, not heaven. She has railed against her angel but, in the end, depends upon her company. The flip side is the perspective from someone who has lived her whole young life in the company of her gods and couldn’t be happier.

This was a very good and entertaining story; although I’d caution our gentle religious readers to tread carefully. This story poses the idea that we invent our own gods. Or, maybe, God just likes to put on different masks to keep us guessing… My favorite writer once said, in one of his books, that man has never created a god better than himself, or something close to that.

This was a good plot and good characters. And while with most books, it’s the characters that matter, I think with this one it was the plot. I enjoyed the mental exercise. It is always fascinating to see people challenged to question their own beliefs and those things they just know are true. The human mind is a very tricky organ; can we always believe in those things we know are true? And what if they aren’t true for everyone else? ~~ Catherine Book

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