Publication Date: January 1, 2022
Afterland was originally a serialized novel appearing in “It’s All About Arts”—a unique Boston-area monthly online magazine that reaches out to a community of local artists who could be easily neglected in the wider arena of such a cosmopolitan area. Told in twelve parts, Afterland moves from the invention of a phone app by the son of a pickle farmer to a cosmic view of the soul. In its serial form, it may have been somewhat bewildering, but the experimental nature of concocting a story in stages makes this inevitable. The phone app opens up a digital portal to a purgatory called Afterland. The inventor, a cyber sleuth named Zorwell, markets the experience as way for people to visit purgatory to check on the status of the souls of their loved ones who have passed on and are awaiting judgement. When this app threatens to expose those in Afterland who may deceive that judgement, The Vatican sees this as an historical threat to the stability of history itself. “Kidnapped” and holed up in Michelangelo’s room of “unfinished and rejected works,” Zorwell encounters a number of purgatory clients that drive the story to the Second Coming, ushers in the return of a now-digitally empowered Voyager 1 Spacecraft with a warning for humankind, and encounters alien-like residents of Afterland who explain the crisis of Afterland’s Soul Retrieval System. Written often with tongue-in-cheek, Morneau satirizes everything about fate and deliverance, but not without a larger lesson to be gleaned from the weird rhythms of this story, as well as provide original collages that illustrate some of the themes and elicit even more guess work.