Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review of an Unusual, Even Unique Book: Hyperlink from Hell

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Hyperlink from Hell; a Couch Potato's Guide to the Afterlife
by Lindy Moone

I discovered that Lindy Moone was in the process of reading my Ki'shto'ba series, so I investigated what she had written and discovered this remarkable book.  Ir isn't formulaic -- it marches to its own drummer -- and that's what I like. I'm planning to read it a second time because the plot is not all that coherent, as I note below.  However, I've been in touch with the author and she is planning a sequel (maybe two books) in which she promises to make everything much clearer!
Here is my review:

A bored god plays games with those who created him

Hyperlink from Hell is a difficult book.  On a superficial level, it’s a bawdy, raucously funny, offbeat fantasy, but it’s a lot more than that.  The beginning grabbed me because the author is such a skillful writer, establishing the situation, setting, and characters with smooth realism.  Then with the onset of Jimmie Canning’s book-within-a-book, I was plunged into the kind of story I don’t usually read – overloaded with sex, nudity, and bathroom humor.  However, I just kept plowing through and that element tapered off as the story continued and expanded into speculative fiction, including an investigation of the afterlife and the nature of god.  It’s saturated with puns (and I happen to love puns), and it’s also loaded with references to popular TV and movie entertainment from the past thirty or forty years.  I never watched a lot of those shows, so I’m sure I missed some zingers, but I got enough of them to appreciate the effect.

When I finished the book, I reread the beginning and the concluding sections and I have to say, while some of my questions were answered, I felt just like Dr. Stapledon – I still didn’t fully understand what really happened.  It’s a book that should be read at least twice because the plot is not the most coherent or self-explanatory.  There are two sets of the same characters, who exist in alternate realities, and the relationship among these two sets can get really confusing.
Three of the characters die early on and the quirkiest of gods, who loves pop culture and game shows as much as Jimmie does, steps in to play games with his creations’ afterlife, testing and teaching them in a sort of mad, mad, mad, mad reality show purgatory.  It includes shapeshifting (flying monkeys, to say nothing of walking pineapples), a stinky but lovable invisible dog, Frankenstein’s monster, giant T. Rexes, vampires ... the list goes on and on.  God appears first as the Wizard of Oz – the Man behind the Curtain – but he also takes the form of the Cheshire Cat, the snake in the Garden of Eden, a tiny devil wielding a pickle fork ... and finally as the Master of Ceremonies in the ultimate game show, which soon morphs into a major battle between good and evil (complete with weapons provided by a purple case reminiscent of the walking box in some of Terry Pratchett’s books.)
But a pivotal element is when god discusses who he really is, and this calls for a quotation:

“Check out those books of yours, again.  All of them.  My favorite line is ‘Man created God in his own image.’ ... I think I was willed into existence.”
“Who could do such a thing?  How?  Why?”
“YOU PEOPLE, WHO ELSE? How, I can’t say.  I’m sure you had your reasons – lots of reasons – but when it all comes down to it, you just want someone to blame and a Twinkie.  I’m sick to death of you, but I’m stuck.”

So this cynical, bored god plays with those who created him in order to alleviate his boredom, but this doesn’t negate the processes of good and evil.  “Thou shalt not kill” still applies and so do the Seven “Dudleys,” the Seven Deadly Sins.  And the wonder of it is, the antihero Jimmie grows as a character, until by the end he becomes a real hero, defeating evil with a visual pun in a delightful plot twist.  Jimmie also refuses to kill and has learned how to forgive and how to care about his fellow human beings.  A hero also has to give up something in order to do the right thing (part of my own definition of the hero) and that surely happens in Jimmie’s case.  All of this comes out of his own mental processes, which aligns this book with humanism – that your ability to be good comes out of yourself and not from an external command from a god who may not even have an independent existence.

I could write a lot more about this book, but I’ll just end by again praising the author’s writing skills, which are capable of keeping the reader mesmerized even when the plot is at its most confusing.  I should also say that the ebook is carefully formatted, with no aberrations to distract the attention and no typos that I caught.  That’s yet another plus.  The only reasons I’m giving it four instead of five stars are the excessive use of bawdy humor and the confusing elements of the plot.

And at least at the moment, the book is only 99 cents.  You’ll get a lot of pleasure and an intellectual workout for this 99 cents, and I strongly recommend that you pick up a copy right now.