Adventures on the Frontiers of Human Consciousness

The premise of Eternal Life Inc. captured me immediately. It is described as “a different kind of science-fiction novel combining physics and metaphysics in a fast-paced adventure about an alien invasion that starts not in outer space but in the inner space of the human mind.” As I began to read, I was soon drawn into this future version of the West Coast U.S., where death is not (necessarily) the end of a human life.

Our unlikely hero, Harry Neuman, is a once down-and-out actor whose recent work involves promoting the immortality being peddled by Eternal Life Inc. This means he has died numerous times and lived again, his soul being born into a new clone of his body. In the process, he’s learned (secretly) about the power of the ka, or soul. Most recently, he’s had some disturbing encounters during the process of returning to the physical plane.

I love the world that James Burkard has created here. Harry’s internal dialogue reads like a hard-boiled old-style detective novel. It’s sprinkled with witty cultural references, thanks to the old Hollywood movie archives that weathered the Crash of civilization in an underground vault. The book brings up many fascinating topics that provide excellent food for thought, including parallel worlds, the ethics of artificial intelligence, and the convergence of spirituality and science.

This fast-paced novel explores, as the author says in his bio, “a multiverse of endless possibilities.” I very much enjoyed the wild ride.

The only issue I had with Eternal Life Inc. was the inconsistent editing. I felt like a final proofreading step had been skipped during the publication process. I’m not talking about one or two errors, but consistent mistakes that were distracting and made it a bit challenging to read. I hope that these issues are taken care of in the next edition.

That said, I look forward to the second book in the series and will definitely read it. While the ending of Eternal Life Inc. was satisfying, Harry Neuman’s journey is far from over. Burkard certainly left open many intriguing possibilities at the end of this first volume. If you enjoy adventurous sci-fi that makes you laugh, question, and ponder life’s mysteries, this book (and series) is for you.

~review by Nikki Starcat Shields

Author: James Burkard
Cosmic Egg Books, 2015
pp.405, $24.95