Things should be looking up for lonely microbiologist Anthony Germaine. As science officer on an epoch-making journey into space, he stands on the cusp of a discovery that could mark a new chapter in human history and propel his career into the stellar league.
But he is only a virtual entity in a spaceship’s computer and his personality files are corrupt. Plagued with acne and obsessed with sex and death, he can’t keep his mind on the job or off the adorable chocolate addict Marlene.
With the computer due to switch itself off a week on Tuesday, he has precious little time to answer the big questions of science, belief and God, win the heart of Marlene, and find some spot lotion.
And to make matters worse, someone or something is bumping off the rest of the crew.
The Everlasting Beyond of Eternal Happiness is a science-fiction comedy about sex, death, God and chocolate that will make you laugh, cringe and hold on to your privates.
For a debut novel The Everlasting Beyond of Eternal Happiness is quite exceptional, it’s funny without going too far, thoughtful without being too preachy and above all a very fine read..
The Everlasting Beyond of Eternal Happiness reminds me quite a bit of Harry Harrisons “Bill, The Galactic Hero” series, which itself is in part a parody of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers – there is a very similar irony running throughout and the book even shares some of the same vernacular. There are faint hints of the Red Dwarf series too and all combined with the authors own unique voice. The Everlasting is a lot more subtle than those series mentioned though and rather than make a play on the action hero as Harrison and Heinlein do Amos does the opposite, the protagonist here is a nerd, in fact almost an Arnold Rimmer – an everyday biologist with as much chance of winning a war as he would have marrying a supermodel.
This lonely microbiologist known as Anthony Germaine is made a science officer on an epoch-making journey into space and is poised to be a part of a discovery that could mark a new chapter in human history. This astro-nerd isn’t the real Anthony though; it’s a digital copy, a virtual entity from a scan of Anthony’s brain. The problems begin when his “personality” files become corrupt and he develops obsessions with sex and death while being plagued with virtual acne and mooning after the delectable chocolate addict Marlene who also a digital copy, as are the entire crew. As if that wasn’t bad enough the computers due to switch itself off next Tuesday and therefore end their virtual lives – while someone or something is bumping off the rest of the crew. It doesn’t leave much time to answer the big questions of science, belief and God, win the heart of Marlene, and find some spot lotion.
I was pretty much entranced throughout much of this novel; there is an effortless quality about the book that makes reading it very easy and comfortable. The subtle humour helps, as does the great storyline and I loved the idea of using virtual astronauts. The author manages to keep you on your toes too with a pretty fast relentless plot with very little downtime at all. As you can probably imagine from the title religion plays a large part in the story with a pretty strict dystopian future that appears to be largely ruled by one quite overpowering religion. The author has a lot of fun with this future where just about everything is sponsored by a brand – even down to the names of the space ships.
The message of overpowering religious dogma and the idea that science and religion can co-exist is well balanced and considered without appearing judgmental or over-reaching. For a debut novel The Everlasting Beyond of Eternal Happiness is quite exceptional, it’s funny without going too far, thoughtful without being too preachy and above all a very fine read.
5/5 Stars – SFBook.com
It was in many ways like a virtual one-way mirror. On the far side, Jared sat cross-legged in a small room, hugging the briefcase to his chest, lost in thought. Anthony, Damon and Marlene stood watching him, the dividing glass tinged a faint red colour.
Damon folded his arms and frowned. "So, he said nothing about finding life?"
Anthony shook his head. "After you told us not to speak to him, we left him alone. He has been trapped in the black box for eight years. Kind of hard to see how he could find life."
"Thank you Anthony, that much is clear." Barely disguised irritation bubbled under the surface of Damon's rumbling voice. "But what about before the crash? What is it in his briefcase that's so dangerous, hmm? Something so serious, it's a matter of national importance?"
Anthony held his tongue. He had not seen Damon this agitated since confronting him about Mariah Duke.
Damon cracked his knuckles. "Okay, let's talk." The glass turned green. "Commander Jared, I am Professor Damon Bridle, Commander of the Europa, 2050 Mission."
Jared stood quickly, facing the others now he could see them. "Professor."
"I must apologise profusely for your current confinement. We have to keep you in a state of quarantine until we are certain you pose no threat."
"Sir, I understand fully. Sir, it is urgent I speak with a senior security official, preferably back on Earth."
"I carry authority on this mission, you may speak to me."
"Sir, with due respect, I believe you may be an inappropriate person. I need to discuss a matter of national security."
"Commander Jared, sir, I assure you, you can speak to me in utmost confidence."
"Sir, I'm sorry. I mean no offence but you are not an appropriate authority for what I have to say."
Damon folded his arms, pausing a moment. "Commander Jared, what is in your briefcase."
"Sir, I am not at liberty to discuss that matter with you."
"Commander, you are on my ship, carrying a potentially dangerous item. I have to insist you tell me the contents of your briefcase."
"Sir, please do not press me on this matter. I am not at liberty to tell you."
"Well, can you tell me what happened to The Nice and Spicy?"
"Sir, no I can't tell you that at the moment."
"The Cola Français?"
"Again, sir, I am not at liberty to discuss this matter."
Bristling, Damon turned away slightly. Anthony stepped forward, making the glass go red. "Sir, can't we just take the briefcase off him and open it?"
Damon sighed. "No Anthony, that it not possible without breaking the quarantine. I can't do that until I know what's in the briefcase." He turned back to Jared and the glass went green again. "Commander, did Europa 2042 find life?"
Jared considered a moment. "No, sir, we did not find life."
"Why the pause?"
"Sir, I have to be careful what I tell you, lest I compromise you."
"Sir, yes. I need to speak to a senior security officer. Can you not put me in touch with mission control back on Earth?"
"Commander, that is not possible while you are in quarantine."
"Sir, surely it is, I am speaking to you now and…"
Damon bellowed, the whole virtual room warping momentarily with its force. "Commander, it is not possible!" He clenched his fists, struggling to regain his composure. "Commander, I will leave you to consider your position. I want to know what is in that briefcase. I will return in one hour."
The glass went red and Damon turned angrily away. "Damn that man. They found life, you saw his face when I asked him."
Anthony cleared his throat nervously. "Gee sir, I don't know…"
Damon spun round, the full force of his anger bearing down. "Of course they did. What else would he be hiding? Hmmm? What else could it possibly be?"
Anthony backed away, his palms up. "Damon, woah, please."
Marlene calmly stepped between them, facing Damon, a female David before Goliath. "Sir, your behaviour is not appropriate."
Damon's fists clenched as he glowered down at her. For a moment, Anthony thought Damon would lash out, swiping Marlene aside with barely an effort. But instead, he sighed, turning away and shaking his head. "I'm sorry. Marlene, you're absolutely right. Anthony, I am truly sorry."
"Gee sir, it's okay."
"Things are not running smoothly. The backup files are corrupt, we've lost our security officer and we have Commander Jared to deal with."
"Sir, why don't we just send Jared back to Earth. Let them deal with him there."
Damon turned back to Anthony. He pointed to Jared, now sat cross-legged once more. "And what if they found life? Hmm?"
"Well, is that a problem? I mean, if the Europa 2042 scientists found life, we should be totally behind them getting the recognition for it."
Damon paused a moment, then chortled. "Absolutely, Anthony. I've got no issue with that."
Marlene stepped forward. "Okay, so there's no issue of professional rivalry, so let's get Jared out of here. Transfer him back to Earth."
A thought occurred to Anthony. "So, any of us could transfer ourselves back to Earth."
Marlene glanced at him. "Of course. So I say, let's ditch Jared and get on with our mission."
Damon stretched, reaching up towards the ceiling, a half-smile on his face. "Absolutely not. Jared remains here, incommunicado until I know what is in that case."
"Because we do not know what happened to The Nice and Spicy. We do not know what happened to The Cola Français. Both suddenly went silent, no warning, just there one minute, gone the next. I don't want the same thing to happen to us."
"But Damon, back on Earth they might get more answers out of him…"
"Enough." Damon held a hand up, silencing Marlene. "My decision is final." He snorted. "At least, it is for the time being. Jared stays. And I don't want anyone to talk to him, you understand. That is an order."
Anthony and Marlene both nodded.
Raising a hand, Anthony cleared his throat. "Sir, just one thing."
"Gee, sir, I've kind of gone wrong. My software isn't working properly, I keep doing weird things."
"Yes, you mentioned that before. You were going to speak to Hunter."
"Hunter told me to speak to Tasha. But sir, I was thinking, maybe it would be better if I just transferred back to Earth."
"Well, I could get properly fixed there."
"I'm sure Tasha will be able to fix you up here, no problem. You can't possibly go back to Earth."
"Because you're here under contract."
"But I'm going to die in six months."
Marlene rolled her eyes and stared up at the ceiling. "Oh please, Anthony, not this again."
"I don't want to die."
Damon put a heavy hand on Anthony's shoulder. "Anthony, listen to me. It is not possible for you to go back to Earth. The real you back on Earth would be sued for breach of contract if you abandoned the mission now. Furthermore, it's against mission protocols to allow any of us back because of the moral issues involved."
"You already exist back on Earth. If the you here was transported back home and put into a clone, who would be the real Anthony Germaine? Who would own your flat? Your credit rating? Which one of you would have life insurance? The legal wrangling would be too horrible to contemplate."
Damon put a hand up. "No, stop. I want you to go and see Tasha. She will get you fixed up in no time. She can sort out the…the thing with your face too. Okay, come on people. We've got work to do."