I picked up Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife for Christmas, and can’t wait to start reading it. (Alas, I must first make a little room on my stack.)
With his new book, Blueprints of the Afterlife, Boudinot takes this finely wrought but perhaps thematically underpowered mimetic-absurdist vehicle and drops in a rocket-powered speculative engine. If Misconception took off from “So Little Time,” Blueprints launches hypersonically from “Written by Machines.”
The bulk of the novel unfolds about a century from now, in a postapocalyptic future barely emerging from an interregnum called the Age of Fucked Up Shit. We will witness at several removes, in the form of interview transcripts with one Luke Piper, the birth of FUS, an enigmatic era whose full meaning and dimensions Boudinot sternly and bravely refuses to fully resolve. With its leitmotif of “superposition,” the physics riff most familiar from the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment, this novel pinwheels out multivalent explanations for almost everything, demanding that the reader navigate his or her own best-determined path of causality through the sly and shifting narrative.
But do not take that to mean that Blueprints of the Afterlife is an impenetrable nest of hypertext. Far from it. Its linear propulsion, studded with bravura set pieces, is compulsively readable in the manner of any consumer-friendly epic fantasy novel, overstuffed with unforgettable freakish characters (in the Age of FUS, freakish is the new normal); laugh-out-loud or cringe-worthy incidents; and rafts of genuinely innovative scientific, spiritual, and philosophical speculations delivered in sleek and colorful prose.