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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Afterlife Code is a science fiction novella written by Joseph M Erickson. Dr. Melanie Sage had an implant that helped her function with the social aspects of life, but the autistic scientist and computer savant was hoping that the code she was working on would allow her to expand her abilities to focus on her work rather than those social niceties. Her mom would rather she just settle down and get married, but her assistant, mathematics savant Paula Dirac, understood Melanie’s focus and just wanted to make sure she had enabled some sort of reset just in case things went awry. Dr. Robert Cobb enjoyed the thrust and parry interactions he shared with his young client, a Marine veteran whose intracranial limbic device, coupled with Dr. Cobb’s therapy, had helped him get past crippling PTSD and finally cleared for his return to the service. Dr. Cobb’s own device, a remnant of his brief military career as a US Army Ranger, had been implanted twenty years ago. He wondered if it needed to be upgraded.
Melanie’s boss, Dr. Karlsson, was furious with her tampering and inadvertent tripping of three silent alarms in the system when she trespassed in order to access the computer equipment. Melanie’s device did allow her to recognize the emotions of her angry boss, but her responses did little to assuage Dr. Karlsson’s ire. She instead ordered Melanie escorted from the building and directed her to see her old therapist, Dr. Cobb. Cobb had expected her call after hearing from Dr. Karlsson, and he had trouble keeping a straight face as she regaled him with her story. He could understand her impatience with her progress even as he was awed by her intelligence and the progress in social niceties she had made. He was intrigued as she discussed her newest enhancement project and watched as she took out her smart phone and began to activate the program. Then, everything went “fizzy”.
Joseph M. Erickson’s high tech science novella, Afterlife Code, is a thrilling and highly entertaining look at alternative reality as Doctors Melanie Sage and Robert Cobb find themselves far removed from their everyday lives. I loved Erickson’s concepts of a virtual storage drive and a shared consciousness that transcends life, and had a grand time considering the knowledge given them by Dr. Gerson on that alternative plane. As with all of Erickson’s works, I learned a great deal from reading this illuminating work even as I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Erickson’s got a gift for speculative fiction writing, and his characters are unique and real. Afterlife Code is most highly recommended.