Afterparty, is about a permanently overdosed neuroscientist that accidentally became the first person in a type I trial for a drug she’d been working on, and which she swore to never let into the wilds. It starts out like a cross between One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test and is pulling me relentlessly along. Having worked in a biotech start-up looking for better brain drugs, and being a Broken/Puritan/Romantic/ at heart, the story makes all too much sense. Oh, and it’s well written. Daryl Gregory is like a dark William Gibson.
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It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.
Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.
A mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, Daryl Gregory’s Afterparty is a marvelous mix of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, and perhaps a bit of Peter Watts’s Starfish: a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.