Imagine going to church, taking communion, and as soon as you swallowed the wafer and wine, seeing God right beside you. Or, if not God, an aspect of God – one that you could converse with, argue with, beg, weep with, and scream at. Now, imagine all that if you were an atheist.
Regardless of what you believe or do not believe, as a science fiction fan you have to wonder: short of this miraculous wafer falling from the sky like manna, where is this drug coming from?
In the not too-distant future, anyone with a 3D printer and passable google-fu can print up DIY drugs. When a new drug called Logos starts seeping into the market, giving people a chemically fused Damascus experience, drug lords start acting like music executives, trying to halt the competition however they can. The thing is Logos, also known as Numinous, actually seems to transform sinners into saints, converting them into evangelicals of Logos: people who would lay down their lives for friends and enemies alike – especially if the outcome furthers the gospel of Logos.
Years ago, Lyda Rose was roofied with an overdose of Numinous – the very drug she helped create. It played a part in the death of her wife, stole the child she was pregnant with, led to frequent stays at various mental institutions, and blessed/cursed her with a constant guardian angel she can’t kick. When Lyda discovers Numinous has leaked out on the street, she and the angel living inside her head check out of their current mental institution, and hit the road to find out who’s been manufacturing Logos.
The road trip Lyda and her friends embark stretches across not only Canada and the United States but also maps free will, redemption, the nature of God, and examines the similarities of religion and substance abuse more explicitly than any other book I can think of (and there are a pretty fair amount of SF/F books that have made that comparison). I appreciate that it seems to treat its characters fairly – a lot of the evangelical-esque characters aren’t monsters. They’re striving for some kind of redemption – even if it happens to be a chemically induced one.
Also: it’s funny as hell, which is kind of surprising for what seems like such a dark book on the cover. But fans of Raising Stony Mayhall will want to check this one out too.
A large part of that is Tavia Gilbert’s narration – it’s a perfect match for Gregory’s prose. Her work here as Lyda, Dr. Gloria, Ollie, and the rest of the gang comes off as intelligent, sharp, witty, and someone you’d want to roadtrip with.
Afterparty is a novel with a dark, chewy center that reminds me quite a bit of William Gibson’s later novels, but with a style that cranks up the entertainment factor and laughs making this story way more fun than you’d expect it to be with such heady subject matter.