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realjimbob

REALJimBob

Fortysomething, photographer slacker, working in IT, living in Greenwich; failed polymath; drinks and eats too much, reads too little...

Heaven

Heaven  - Mur Lafferty [a:Mur Lafferty|97284|Mur Lafferty|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1314461906p2/97284.jpg] was generous enough to make a bunch of her ebooks available for free earlier this year. Which was lucky, as I'd never really heard of her before, but I seem to be suffering from an addition to free ebooks – the downloading more than the reading so far. However, sitting by the pool, having read all but one of my real books (always keep one real book back for the flight home – nobody can tell you to turn a book off during take-off) I was searching for something new to read on my Kindle and remembered Lafferty's [b:Heaven|11408122|Heaven (The Afterlife Series, #1)|Mur Lafferty|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1314463484s/11408122.jpg|2282661]. The first in a series of novellas, originally presented as podcasts before being updated for the ebook format.

Firstly, it's a novella, so it's short. There are no page numbers in my ebook, but I read it in a single sitting one afternoon. But, it's fun and it tears along at a pretty steady lick to keep you reading. We start out being introduced to our two protagonists: Kate who narrates the first half of the novella, and Daniel who narrates the second half. As we're introduced to them it's explained pretty quickly that they're going to die. After all, it wouldn't be much of a story about Heaven if they didn't get there pretty quickly. Consequently, Kate introduces the characters and narrates their deaths before describing her arrival in Heaven. Initially happy, she starts to feel it's all a bit, well, dull. So she starts to challenge the boundaries of her Heaven. Eventually, Kate and Daniel are charged with a secret mission from God. A mission that could mean the end of all the Heavens – yes, even doggie Heaven. Souls are disappearing and God's apparently a bit too busy to investigate himself.

Kate's narration suffers from two problems. Firstly, her continued and unspoken (except to us) obsession with Daniel gets irritating pretty quickly. And, secondly, Daniel himself is a bit of a dick. Actually more than a bit. However, the second half of the novella, into the main part of the mission itself, is narrated by Daniel directly. He seems a lot less of a dick when he's describing himself – maybe there's a message for us all in there – but it could also be that once he's got a mission to concentrate on, he's just got a lot less free time for being a dick.

Lafferty's Afterlife universe is fascinating. Multiple cultural Heaven's – all interconnected – some aware of each other, and others less so. The novella wraps up pretty sharply, a limitation of the form itself, but also the initial serialisation of the Afterlife series has led Lafferty to do the same with the novellas. Heaven ends abruptly and makes it pretty clear that the mission is far from complete. The title of the next novella, [b:Hell|11816561|Hell|Mur Lafferty|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1314464015s/11816561.jpg|2341067] should provide a big clue as to the direction (if that's not enough, there's a sneak peak of the sequel at the end).