“Heaven 2.0″ – by Scott Haworth

Cover ImageLife is tough for angels – I mean extraction specialists. What if eternal happiness was a facility designed by humankind some time in the future? What if eternal damnation was similarly administered? Would you feel relieved – or worried?

Heaven 2.0 starts with a fascinating premise; that some time in the future, all religions merge into a single unifying faith and that technology has availed us of the opportunity to extract people from the past, moments before their fated passing, processing them into a manufactured “Heaven” or “Hell” as decreed by interpretation of humanity’s moral creeds. When you’re so sure that the Almighty’s will is to have you create the ultimate result of humanity’s mortal coil, what could possibly go wrong?

As a reader we are exposed to exactly what could go wrong. And like many futuristic science fiction stories, there is ample extrapolation of current issues throughout the story: corporate rationalisation, quotas and performance metrics and what a corporation might do to secure ongoing government funding. We also see the peril of a future humanity applying a contemporary moral code on people from different eras – a rather sobering and provocative exercise. As quickly as we feel the outrage against a future morality when brought into judgement over our own, we suddenly recognise the similar arrogance we often use to judge those who have come before us.

Unfortunately, although I found the premise and message a winner in this novel, I could not be as enthusiastic about the execution. The prose itself is completely adequate and I have no particular issues with the style and certainly none with the accuracy; there was a satisfying lack of careless errors. However, I found the handling of the plot and characterisation to be less impressive than the ideas behind them. I understand the need of keeping a story focused, on not embarking in hundreds of pages of filler not pertinent to either the core plot or message. But to me, this novel was the skeleton of the story that could have been told – only containing the bare minimum required to make sure the message was delivered. Additionally, the characters became shells – sometimes illogical shells.

The main character could have been a likeable hero – a recognised genius head-hunted to become an extraction specialist, embraced in a corporation eventually revealed as corrupt and dangerous. There’s a great deal we could learn about this character and how his ideals and intelligence could be used to uncover in-congruencies and hatch sophisticated plots to expose corruption, all with the very real risk of being disposed of by those in power. It could have been a sci-fi version of The Client by John Grisham. However, all we end up witnessing is an absolute fool blundering carelessly through every plot milestone, without any spark of intelligence or cunning. The cunning is reserved for characters that we never really get to know who remain in the background like some deus ex machina to ensure our clueless hero’s success. And when wandering with intent but without any plan in the vast complex providing a Hell for all humanity throughout history, what chance would one have to run into people one was looking for? According to the author, a 100% success rate – maybe our protagonist really is a genius after all.

Along the way we do see some interesting ways in which a future humanity might use one’s alleged sins to devise punishments, though I have to admit to being somewhat perplexed by the significance of some – the faeces room in particular seemed more puerile than pertinent. But overall, I just found the experience a bit lacklustre.

I wanted to like this story because to me, the premise is great. I would happily have swallowed the disbelief when considering a complex in the moon housing the history of humanity if I was given a conspiracy thriller with logical character development, genuine suspense and a sophisticated plot. But Heaven 2.0 unfortunately felt like a rushed exercise and a missed opportunity.

Rating: 2.5/5

Price at the time of review: $2.99 US

Available: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Diesel

Author site: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5777643.Scott_Haworth
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13553100-heaven-2-0

 
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