SF/F/H category, Lambda Award Nominee
I don’t know how Janes and Johns can stand how weird it feels to see your name used as a character’s name in a novel. My name is more than a little unusual. I have run across exactly one other Lyda in my life, and she was named after me.
So it’s even a stranger coincidence that the Lyda in Afterparty is a lesbian, just like I am. She also lives in a world I could have written, since it’s populated with the kinds of things I like to write about in my science fiction, namely snarky angles, designer drugs and clever, paranoid computer geniuses.
In fact, I ended up cyberstalking Gregory because I was curious if he was familiar with my work at all. Turns out, he had no idea that there was a cyberpunk, lesbian author named Lyda. I’d written to him from my Twitter account, which is under my pseudonym of Tate Hallaway, and this was his response:
So, despite nearly getting knocked out of the story every time I read “Lyda,” I really enjoyed Afterparty. We first meet Lyda in a Canadian psych ward where it’s clear she’s detoxing from a major bender and has a constant hallucinatory companion, an angel she refers to as Dr. Gloria. She maneuvers her way to an early release because another inmate has killed herself due to a sense of having lost God. Lyda realizes this might mean that there’s a black market version of the drug she helped design out on the street. The drug was originally meant to alleviate schizophrenia, but instead induces the sensation being in the presence of a Higher Power.
There’s a lot of science to the idea that “God” could be artificially induced. If you do a simple Google on “neurological god” you get any number of articles, including the Wikipedia entry for the God Helmet, which supposedly can create the sensation of God’s presence, and an in-depth article from the Atlantic about the various ways in which the mind reacts “on God.”
Afterparty’s plot is a whodunit, in terms of tracing down who/what is responsible for allowing this God Drug, the street name of which is Numinous, out into the population. This leads Lyda to meet up with a matriarchal, grandmotherly Afghani mafia and numerous other interesting denizens of Gregory’s future Canada/US, while forcing her to come face to face with the personal demons from her past.
For me, this was science fiction at its best. There’s adventure, personal internal conflict, a touch of romance with the ex-spy Ollie, and good, solid science as plot point.
Now, if I could just get over the fact that the heroine has my name…