on June 28, 2015 :
An intriguing and daring novelette that will be an uncomfortable read for most readers. Uncomfortable in way like Lolita or The Wasp Factory.
It's dense, it' s brainy and you'll need to keep paying attention at different levels. Even than you will probably need to read it twice.
The protagonist isn't even close to being likable. The universe created in this story and especially the part about the afterlife is disturbing in a way that will stick in your mind for days after reading this short read.
The heavy handed use of christian religious lingo combined with the essentially non-religious depiction of christian deities and the afterlife (somewhere halfway between a 1960s psychedelic drug related theme and modern string-theory inspired science fiction) will add significantly to the discomfort.
I don't think there will be many people who will 'enjoy' the experience of reading this novelette. Its the kind of story though that has the capacity to really mess with and stick in your mind.
I think the author could have skipped the epilogue and make it even more uncomfortable (in a good way). The epilogue adds a kind of happy ending that I feel detracts from the disturbing quality of this short work of fiction.
(review of free book)
on March 20, 2015 :
So much conflict between the potential and the result.
Atheist Afterlife has so many problems that I find it very difficult to give it a rating in good conscience. It has an idea, it has a destination, but it does not seem to know how to get from A to B. I am trying to restrain myself from descending into nastiness when I speak of what is wrong with it. But this is a difficult thing to do, and unfortunately I am not able to recommend the story to friends in good conscience.
It is very confusing to try and speak of the message of the story. Does Rob Meijer want to beat the audience's head with a "ha ha all atheists are fools" tone? Or is he trying to convey that the believers are so limited in their imagination that they do not see what they see, so to speak? It is really quite confusing and difficult.
The plot, near as I can discern, goes something like this. A brilliant research scientist is diagnosed with a terminal disease that eats away at his ability to perform research. Said disease also takes his wife, children, and indeed most if not all of his family, but the exact nature or mechanism of the disease is never explored. Indeed, aside from one character through whom the scientist contemplates the possibility of his work being continued, we really never explore the characters nor the research scientist as people.
I will give you a sample of the text in order to clarify my point.
"No, religion was not being purged from the world as David had set out to do, for from it. It was being cleansed of misinterpretations and broken lines that had diluted old rituals for milennia. More importantly, bad doctrine was being purged from the world. Science and religion were quickly becoming one, and humanity was setting out to take up a much more central place in creation than it ever had."
This is literally the third to last paragraph in the story, and the problem is that the entire story is written like this. There is no device by which the central protagonist grows more confused or spaced-out as the story progresses. In fact, through the whole tell rather than show manner, the story never reaches anything beyond "I want to convince you of a compatibility between science and religion". And even THAT, I am uncertain is what the author aims for.
Simply put, this story should never have been published. It is not even a narrative. At best, it is a collection of thought processes from inside the head of a narrator. At no point does it do anything to support any of the statements it makes through its protagonist. It simply muses on and on about the character's thoughts and feelings as perhaps four central events take place around said author.
I will give this author credit for trying, as there is a story concept buried in here that I am certain I myself could make a great fruit out of by proxy of Kronisk or Linula, my two hell-in-a-teacup concept characters. But because we are never told what mysterious illness kills the protagonist or how it works, what the protagonist's research does, or why we should believe in the reality the protagonist finds himself in after he dies, it is really hard to say anything complimentary about the end result.
My final comment here is that the story needs far more fleshing out and exploration in terms of its characters and what motivates them. But I feel frightened to say that largely because the writing style, which I believe I have sufficiently quoted, is not going to improve any over the span of a hundred thousand words. I believe that Mister Meijer could write an interesting piece of work along these lines. But first, he needs to sit down and really think about every aspect of his writing style.
Hence, I am giving Atheist Afterlife two stars. There is a redeemable idea here that could be done well. But on the basis of this short volume, I believe a lot more work is needed.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)