I was given Blueprints of the Afterlife with the following instructions: 1. Read this book. 2. Get past the first fifty pages. At page 51, I was engaged. Reading this novel was a major achievement in itself. I’m a high achiever, so the novel was a good fit. I actually took notes and logged my every impression on scraps of notebook paper, receipts and any other paper good lying within my reach. Dense with provocative perspectives on modern Western society, I felt like I was reading the post-Modern edition of Jared Diamond’s Collapse — with an added mocking commentary.
This post-apocalyptic world is accessed through a silly string entanglement of pre- and post- apocalyptic memories. Here, technology is taken to its extreme. Nanotechnology has advanced to the point of overtaking human control. Weapons and entire militaries are sponsored by Coke and Sony. Obvious and guaranteed disaster bears down from the North in the form of a sentient glacier, yet, “Americans never paid much attention to Canadians anyway unless they were good at telling jokes.”
How peculiar is this world? Cloning, organ harvesting, biometrics, and corporate sponsorship are all part of our current cultural vernacular. Ridiculous reactions to impending doom are likewise part of human history. See: Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius, Greenland and Deforestation, Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina. Every generation from the beginning of recorded history owns a ruling class that overspends on luxuries only to ignore the destruction of its own people.
Ryan Boudinot presents a powerfully prophetic IF, THEN statement. IF the West continues its addiction to material goods, to technology, THEN the West will ultimately lose its freedom. The progeny of the Internet will become the new addiction. People will lose control of their bodies, their thoughts, and even their memories. With the collapse of whole ecologies and the nosedive of Western economies, are we, too, ignoring a Titanic-sized glacier?
Blueprints of the Afterlife
Grove Atlantic 2012