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AFTER LIFE LIFE
by Don Goldman
Cumberland House, February 2003
264 pages
$15.95
ISBN: 1930754329


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Andrew Law is 45 and a respected judge on the Texas Supreme Court in the year 2012. One day he gets the bad news that he has a rare disease that might kill him at any moment and the very next morning he wakes up dead.

The After Life Life, as it turns out, is a sort of triage centre, a place where each soul is given a five-day evaluation and time to contemplate its sins and then is sorted to Level Four (really hopeless evil -- only 16 inhabitants from all the billions of human souls), Level Three (bad -- needs serious time out to readjust), Level Two (most folks -- pretty good, back to another life to try again), or Level One (bingo -- heaven). Time passes differently here, each hour equivalent to about 30 years on earth, so most souls spend their five days in the company of nearly everyone they knew in life, regardless of when they died.

Andy, it develops, has just missed Level One status due to a single insensitive and manipulative act with a lot of extenuating circs which apparently cancels out a lifetime of being a really good guy. Worse, his adored wife did make it to Level One, which means he'll never see her again, as he will shortly be recycled into a new life. As he tries to come to terms with all this, he stumbles on information that he didn't actually die of the rare disease but was instead murdered. And it seems that, if he can help the powers that be to discover who perpetrated his own murder, he may get another chance at Level One.

This is very thin stuff. Creating an alternate reality requires weaving a fabric that, no matter how peculiar it is, has an internal logical consistency. There are holes in this fabric you could drop a plate of oranges through. We are presented, for example with a bad bad guy who is responsible for the deaths of billions and who is diabolically clever enough to be on his way to subverting the afterlife system itself, but our hero foils him with a freshman logic problem. The characters are nearly all jerks, including the saintly Level Ones, who apparently are allowed to be manipulative liars once they hit the jackpot.

The author, we are told, is "a successful real estate developer", but I'm guessing he was a stand-up comic in another life. The story is larded with corny old jokes (Didja hear the one about Neil Armstrong and Manny Klein? Or the one where Abe Katz goes to confession? Or . . . never mind), and in fact in the end (I'm not really giving anything away here), the entire story turns out to be a standup routine with the reliable old theme of aren't women just the most aggravating and illogical little things? Pardon me while I purse my lips and go "tsk."

Reviewed by Diana Sandberg, August 0039

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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