Hello and welcome to the party. Or should I say, the AFTERPARTY! Hahahahahahahahaha! No. I’ll stop now.
We don’t do many blog tours anymore, but I really wanted to do this one because not only did it sound like a fascinating book by an award winning author, but it’s marketed as Neuromancer meets Ubik. There was no way I was going to pass that up. Unfortunately, my copy only just came in so we had to do this interview blind.
1. Afterparty is a story set in a dug addled world where illicit substances are easy to manufacture and distribute. What first inspired this idea?
I think the near-future world of the book is a reflection of what’s going on now. We have a tremendous number of pharmaceuticals available to us, both legally and illegally. Untested designer drugs are available now, and can be ordered over the internet. (The now-defunct Silk Road site was not ever the only avenue for doing this, just the most notorious.)
These drugs are interesting to think about, because they make us ask profound questions. If a drug is similar to the chemicals that my brain already produces, then what is “natural”? How much of what I think of as “my self” is due to the biological processes in my body?
I knew Afterparty was going to be a book that asked those questions, so I needed a lot of different designer drugs for the characters to both take and talk about, which required a world where the designer drug revolution was already in progress.
2. Lyda is a scientist and possibly the co-creator of a drug being misused by a church. It sounds like she’s possibly culpable for a lot of damage being done to people’s lives. How did that effect her characterisation in the scheme of the plot?
That’s what starts the story in motion. Lyda thought she and colleagues had buried the drug, but now, ten years later, it’s back on the street. She knows the damage it can do, and tries to stop it from spreading.
That said, Lyda’s not a heroic character. She’s smart and driven, but she’s also selfish, psychologically damaged, and an addict. She’s a little too willing to use friends to get what she needs.
3. This vision of the future doesn’t seem unrealistic with the release of 3D printing and the legal sale of chemical drugs already. Any way you can imagine to avoid this future?
I think it’s simply inevitable. Bio-hacking and drug experimentation are bound to spread, once we have the hardware to cook and combine molecules. One of the standard tools the near-future SF writer is to take a look at current technology and try to recombine bits to get something new. So, 3D printers, plus chemical precursor packs and an online community for open source recipes equal desktop drug design. Presto!
4. Is there any one message you wanted readers to walk away with from the book?
There’s no one message, but there is one question: How much do you trust your brain? Because that hunk of grey and white matter is lying to you all the time. And not just about small stuff, like optical illusions. It’s fooling you in profound ways, starting with the illusion of a self that has free will.
5. Your book is marketed as a cross between Dick’s Ubik and Gibson’s Neuromancer. Those are two pretty big titles to be compared to. Any nerves for the book’s reception?
Oh man. I suppose marketers are always writing checks that the poor book now has to cash, but whenever someone compares one of my works to a classic, I’m tempted to say something like, “If you liked Neuromancer, you MAY be only slightly disappointed by Afterparty.”
But I am honored by any comparison to those writers, because they influenced me and this book in particular. Neuromancer was the first SF book I read that felt like a crime novel, and that’s the model for this book. I’m a longtime reader of Lawrence Bloch and Elmore Leonard, and Afterparty deliberately tried to use the crime thriller pace of their books, as well as some of the fun.
Philip K Dick has always been a huge influence. Reading Valis was one of the most important reading experiences of my life. I’d already used Dick as a character in my first novel, Pandemonium. And in this book, the first-person narrator who has an imaginary alter ego owes everything to the characters of Phil and Horselover Fat in Valis.
But to answer your question: Am I nervous? You bet!
Check out the book below!
Published: April 22nd 2014
Publication: Tor Books
Afterparty by Daryl Gregory (April 22, 2014, Tor Books) is part science fiction, part thriller and completely mind-bending.
This futuristic novel opens in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution where all you need is a chemjet and Internet connection to print—or invent—drugs. One such drug is the brain-altering Numinous, new to the street drug scene. Credited with leading people to God, it is being used as a sacrament by a new church that preys on the underclass.
After Francine, a 17-year-old street girl and victim of that church, is thrown into a detention facility and in withdrawal from Numinous, she meets Lyda Rose who has a dark secret: she is one of the original creators of the drug that she thought no longer existed. After Francine commits suicide, Lyda sets out to make things right.
With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda begins a fast-paced chase across Canada and the United States to find the other survivors who created Numinous—and stop whoever is making the drug.