If you could do this again… would you?

If you were guaranteed to get a brand-new physically perfect body every time the body you are in dies – would you be less careful with it than you are now?

That’s just one of the questions I’ve thought about since reading Merrie Destefano’s debut novel Afterlife– a cyberpunk/gothic thriller that explores a futuristic New Orleans in a world where no one really dies anymore unless they want to.

The theme of eternal life has been a fiction fodder for, well, forever. Like The Picture of Dorian Graythere is a dark side to remaining in the light. In Merrie’s dystopian world one unintended consequence is the ban on new births due to a globe overwhelmed by a populace that will not die. Correction, their bodies do die, but scientists have found how to capture the essence of one’s being from their DNA and re-use that DNA allowing someone to be “re-born” up to nine times before the DNA is exhausted. Fresh new bodies of the user’s design await them, usually model perfect and 21-years-old.

What makes Merrie’s book highly unusual in the genre is the introduction of faith and religion. What if you believe one life is enough? What does that do to your social standing in the world? After all, becoming a Stringer (someone who strings lives together) is not a death-bed decision. First-timers are given the option to choose resurrection as a part of their school curriculum. And what about the vast segments of the global population that cannot afford resurrection? Are there revolts? What about the black-market imitations that are bound to spring up, how reliable or monstrous are those results?

I’m not going to ask Merrie those questions because that stuff is in the book and you can read it for yourself. (Just make sure you’ve got a nice uninterupted block of time!) However, Merrie has agreed to answer questions for me next week. What questions would you ask?

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