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Daryl Gregory
Titan Books, 352 pages

Daryl Gregory
Daryl Gregory's first novel, Pandemonium, was published in 2008 and won the 2009 Crawford Award, given each year by critics and scholars of the fantasy field to "an oustanding new fantasy writer whose first book was published the previous year." The book was also a finalist for The Shirley Jackson Award, the Locus Award, and the Mythopoeic Award for best fantasy adult novel. Gregory's short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's, several year's-best anthologies, and other fine venues. In 2005 Gregory recieved the Asimov's Readers' Award for the novelette "Second Person, Present Tense." He lives with his wife and two children in State College, Pennsylvania, where he writes both fiction and web code.

Daryl Gregory Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Devil's Alphabet

A review by Sandra Scholes

Darryl Gregory's first novel, Pandemonium, won the Crawford Award and became a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. His other novel, The Devil's Alphabet won him the Philip K. Dick Award as a finalist and was named by Publishers Weekly as a best book of the year. His third offering Raising Stony Mayhall was a Library Journal Best Book of 2011. Afterparty takes a look at the future of drugs from a different angle.

Take a pill. Get a god. If only it was as easy as it sounds. Lyda Rose, one of four neuroscientists has helped create Numinous, a brand new drug designed to treat schizophrenia. With a couple of quotes from T.H. Huxley and the Bible, the idea of the story is realised -- can one take a pill and get a god? Or does the user instead get a second voice inside their heads that seems, to the individual, to be telling them to do things that might be out of character. When a girl who is part of a new church is taken into a detention cell after being arrested, she despairs without the drug and kills herself. The controversy comes as the Church of the Hologrammatic God doesn't see the drug as a narcotic, but a way of humans consulting with god.

The story concentrates on Lyda Rose, a woman who has taken the drug to the point she has overdosed, and was able to tell others how she felt. She believes she has found herself by using Numinous and feels whole, but also has another voice inside her head she mistakes for a separate entity, another person she listens to and also interacts with though no one else can see her. She names the other person Dr. Gloria and she sees her as her angel who can guide her in every aspect of her life. She should know that Dr. Gloria is a figment of her imagination due to having taken the drug, but to her she is as real as those around her. What is interesting is Lyda was one of the original scientists who helped develop Numinous, even though she should have been put on antidepressants. Lyda only needs help from two people, Dr. Gloria and an ex-government agent who can go in search of the other three who made the drug with her so she can make sense of it.

Afterparty is an original read with strange characters, GFD parties where men take drugs and leave their heterosexual world behind to engage in some fun with their own sex, calling it being Gay for a Day. These drugs can be bought using their HashCash cards and drugs in this novel vary in different stages, Numinous isn't the only smart drug on the market, but it could be the most damaging. Mikala, Gil, Edo, Rovil and Lyda started it all off making Numinous as a way of treating schizophrenia in patients for the sole purpose of using it in Afghanistan. There, finding a cure for the condition was difficult, and when they trialled earlier versions of the drug, there were secondary effects just like "a drug for hypertension can become a treatment for erectile dysfunction." When they have found the cure, Kensington Inc. was all set to buy them out and from that they thought they would get wealthy and happy, but things changed for all of them, and not for the better. The closer Lyda gets to her former comrades, the closer she gets to the truth of what happened and a chance to redress the balance of what the drug has already done to others. Afterparty is the sort of pulpy, futuristic novel that can be held high among those who were a part of the 90s generation of free, happy people who indulged in thumping beats and all kinds of thrills -- this is the drug age taken up a level or two for perfect enjoyment. Drug use here is a way of not just bending the mind, but bending it in real time where a person can use it to gain a new personality.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra has been published in Hellnotes,The British Fantasy Society, Love Romance Passion, Albedo One and many other magazines too cool to mention.

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