An astonishing exploration of human imagination, longings, and illusion. Mr. Osborne delves into worldviews, self-images, cultural biases, and personal baggage. Then he reveals the ultimate malleability of eternity, and he does all of that so smoothly that one is vertiginous before realizing what a roller coaster of a ride they have been strapped into.
What happens after death? Do we simply wink out as our physical brain ceases to offer a matrix for our mind? Is there such a thing as a soul, and if there is, can it be lost after death? How much does our religious/cultural conditioning shape our afterlife? What does an atheist do when they arrive in “Heaven”? Is there reincarnation? A Hell? Are we the only sentients who share the afterlife? Can you lose yourself, your identity, forever? All of these questions and more are laid out with superlative showing. Each is answered, then revealed as illusion, then reinvented with any number of twists.
The first thing I noted on opening this thought trap was that the lines of text were spaced as if it were a manuscript rather than, as is typically done, cramming them together. It was refreshing and made for speedy, effortless reading. Overall use of formatting was smoothly professional. But there were some places where expanded, over-bolded text was employed for literal pages to convey the intensity of one fugue state or another; in those places sometimes words ran into each other without spacing. That experimental formatting was jarring, breaking the continuity and ease of immersion. Forgiveness inevitably followed as the story again seized and wrenched.
The old Egyptian concept of seven souls with differing characters and destinations is employed for major changes of direction; a lesser author would have used mere chapters.
Pete Herlinger is waking from years of coma, just discovering the losses of his parents, wife, and daughter. He is physically wasted, mentally devastated, and must cope with being alive while longing for death. His longing is fulfilled, and in his first exposure to the afterlife, the natures of his beloved family are revealed. He discovers the true sexuality of some, the innocent fragility of others, and the necessity to pierce through reality. Does he? Even he does not know, after all of that, and neither does the reader.
One final question: can Heaven itself die if mankind solves death? Is it a Ponzi scheme of souls?
Remember that roller coaster? This is one superbly hellacious ride!!
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