Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Location!, Location!, Location!

Omega Gray

By Seb Doubinsky

Publisher: Journalstone

Pub. Date: February 1, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I guess the old descriptions of the afterlife have become obsolete. We have ordained the heaven of hosannas described by Dante and Milton as stodgy and dull. And the tunnel of light is so 20th century. So what do we have now? For Seb Doubinsky, the afterlife sounds depressingly like our own present existence. We still have day jobs and still have to obey particular afterlife rules lest we damage the karmic balance. That means no prank phone calls to the previous world as a couple afterlife anarchists are learning the hard way. Immediate Reincarnation seems to be one dreaded punishment which at least tells us that the afterlife is a little bit better than where we are now. it is a parallel reality in the multiverse that is only open to the deceased...until now. That may sound a bit mundane but it is still entrenched with a karmic thread that keeps everything together...until now.

In Omega Gray Professor Todd Bailer has entered The Land of the Dead by the use of a shaman's mixture of hallucinogens. At first he is skeptical and believes his journey is no more than an hallucination. But when it is followed by an accident resulting in a near death experience, he becomes convinced that the Land of The Dead is a real place. When he publishes his finding, it is met by ridicule by the scientific community and he is ostracized regulating him to the internet fringes and the true believers. That is until a very wealthy man takes an interest in the idea that one can actually go to this afterlife while alive. The reason? Greed and location, location, location. Yet this venture may lead to the destruction of the entire universe and then some.

This is the first of Doubinsky's novels that I read that is not set in the author's own parallel universe of Viborg City yet it has many of the same themes going on. Omega Gray reads more traditionally, although I miss the intermittent poetry of White City, and is lighter in tone. Omega Gray is quite humorous in its own way and could be called a satire, making light of one's own greed and the very human stubbornness in keeping our old ways and values even when faced with a different reality. Bailer has sort of a spirit guide in the nature of Joe M., who is tasked with keeping law and order in the afterlife, a world he doesn't understand all that much himself. It is an amusing conceit . However if the author's speculation of the here and after is anywhere to being the truth, I can understand why Milton threw in the hosannas and angels.

Doubinsky continues to be one of the more interesting speculative fiction writer out there. There remains a strong Phillip K Dick influence yet I sense I am sensing some of the social satire of Robert Sheckley seeping through in a droll and dryer Doubinsky version. Omega Gray would be a good introduction to this writer and well worth the effort to find and read.

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