Northwest Bookshelf: Blueprints of the Afterlife

Edited by James Ross Gardner March 7, 2012 Published in the March 2012 issue of Seattle Met

In Ryan Boudinot’s second novel, Blueprints of the Afterlife (Grove Atlantic), the onetime Seattle Met contributor—whom Dave Eggers once called “some kind of new and dangerous cross between Vonnegut and Barthelme”—plunges readers into a Seattle at least a century in the future, where construction is under way to transform Bainbridge Island into a full-scale replica of Manhattan. Civilization has just limped out of what’s called “The Age of Fucked Up Shit,” when a killer glacier slides from city to city, unleashing bloodthirsty polar bears on the populace.

Left to make sense of the wreckage are a world-champion dishwasher, the star of the highest-rated TV show (premise: an android hooker assassinates humans in scenes that make Kill Bill look tame), and a video archivist who hangs out with hundreds of clones in Victoria’s Empress Hotel and whose corpse keeps showing up in Boeing Field.

Boudinot lards the rather loose plot with pop-cult references (Chewbacca, Will Ferrell, Pink Floyd’s The Wall) and humor—as when the randy ghost of a Bill Gates–like tech mogul brokers a look-see at another character’s bare chest.

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