Afterparty Paperback – 15 Aug 2014
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'This is a road trip revelation for a new generation.' --Sci Fi Now
'Energetic, violent and darkly funny, and touches on serious questions about faith and belief.' --Financial Times
'Clever, philosophical sci-fi thriller.' --The Sun < br/>
An Amazon.com 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
Both irreverent and sympathetic to the sincere Numinous-addicted believers, the tragi-comical satire dispenses with sermons and easy morals, preferring to be entertaining and thought-provoking instead. Publishers Weekly
International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) William L. Crawford Fantasy Award winner Gregory (Pandemonium; Raising Stony Mayhall) takes on the pharmaceutical industry, drug dealers, religion, and the intricacies of how our brains work. The way the author combines the energy of a thriller with the ideas of sf is reminiscent of William Gibson's best one-step-into-the-future novels like Pattern Recognition. --Library Journal (starred review)
br > "The writing is gripping, exciting and flows at a pace both adrenaline inducing and calming at the same time." -- --The Cult Den
About the Author
Daryl Gregory is an award-winning science fiction author. His first novel, Pandemonium, won the Crawford Award, and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. The Devil's Alphabet was a Philip K. Dick Award finalist and was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of the year. His third book, Raising Stony Mayhall was a Library Journal Best Book of 2011. He lives in State College, PA.
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Top Customer Reviews
After spending much of the past 10 years in an asylum, Lyda Rose is ready to get out. Her personal physician Dr Gloria suggests it’s about time, but no one else seemed to agree with Gloria (or be able to see her). Someone is starting to manufacture a drug that Lyda helped to invent, a drug that lets you feel God’s presence. All well and good, but what happens if you run out? The only other quick way to find God may be to kill yourself. Lyda is in a race against time to get the new Smart Drug off the streets and work out whom of her ex-colleagues is behind the outbreak.
‘Afterparty’ is the type of smart science fiction that I love, set in a twisted near future that makes changes to how we currently live, but remains believable. Gregory has a Douglas Coupland perspective on the future, filling ‘Afterparty’ with the overgrown children that have come to define ‘Generation X’. Our heroine is not the nicest person, but she is flawed in a believable way. Lyda manipulates those around her to get what she wants and we the reader are not even sure if her goal is a positive one. Shouldn’t the word of God be spread?
There is a very interesting core to ‘Afterparty’ that explores what faith is and whether it is a good or bad thing. Is an unwavering belief in a higher being inherently positive?Read more ›
I did like the way that the author brings an unlikely hero to follow, she has a lot of her own problems and when she has to delve into what she not only helped to develop but facing her own demons did keep it interesting. Add to this a few quirky twists, a surprise or two along the way and all round it was an OK book, but had it stuck with the type of telling that the book opened with I’d have been way happier.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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 begins with a parable (one of many in the book) of a young girl who experiments with a new drug, the Numinous, and experiences the divine. But when she goes through withdrawal while in detention, she commits suicide (this is on the rear cover, so I consider it a minor spoiler–in fact, I’ll just say this now MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.). A fellow patient at the facility, Lyda Rose, recognizes the girl’s symptoms.
You see, years prior, Lyda was a biochemist trying to cure schizophrenia. But when her startup was celebrating their successful drug and eminent payday, the co-creators were drugged. Terrible things happened, and they were left with a permanent reminder of their overdose in the form of a religious hallucination permanently hovering over their shoulder, or in Lyda’s case, an angel named Dr. Gloria. Understandably, they agreed to keep this drug from ever hitting the streets. And even locked away, Lyda thought that agreement was still standing.
Lyda manages to get paroled to figure out which one of the co-founders is releasing Numinous. We follow Lyda (and a former-spook who redlined on the drugs of her trade) from Canada to the American southwest, interacting with drug dealers who manufacture drugs using chemjet printers, make deals with full-time smugglers and part-time human traffickers, explore smart homes, and evade corporate-sponsored hitmen.
Along the way, readers also confront the limits and limitations of reality and perception. What is God if our perceptions are the result of chemical reactions? If there’s nothing beyond those reactions, is there free will? What if a person’s brain chemistry has been warped by drugs? What do you think, and what does the angel on your shoulder think? If there is disagreement, what does that mean?
AFTERPARTY is Gregory’s fourth book, but my first exposure to him, and I’m a new fan. The pacing is quick, the plot is tight, and the writing is quite clever. Chapter breaks are spiked with surprises or reversals that made me question and re-think what I had just read (putting me in a watered down version of Lyda’s hallucinatory world). His worldbuilding is also wonderfully done, extrapolating near-future communications technology, transportation, the democratization of drug-making, and more.
But it’s Gregory’s characters that I really enjoyed, particularly Lyda and Dr. Gloria. Lyda is driven by fear and regret, and it causes her to do some bad things, including using her friends for her own ends. She’s self-aware, and tries to rationalize or downplay her errors, or at least deflect them using sarcasm (that I found colorful, witty, and well-written). But even then, there’s only so much her conscience can take–even Dr. Gloria will fly away to sulk if Lyda goes too far.
AFTERPARTY is a quick, clever, and fun read. You’ll probably finish it in an evening or over a weekend. But it’s not a toss-away thriller. There are deeper issues here about technology, chemistry, and religion. And the way Gregory handles them kicks his novel up to a higher tier. Highly recommended.
This futurist novel artfully blends drugs, religion, science, relationships, and business politics together into an impossible to put down read. Part sci-fi, part thriller, the character development and writing style is outstanding. I admired Daryl Gregory's ability to take a really unusual storyline and develop a richly complex plot that I could not stop reading.
In addition to providing entertainment, this book also made me pause to think about ethics, technology, and greed and the possibility of the plot coming true.
I recommend this book for those who like sci fi, current events, thrillers, or technology-based reads. It would also be a good (weighty) book club discussion for those clubs who like heavier reads.