And so the states, after much wrangling, rallied together and passed the Forty-first Amendment, the Homeland Equitable Alliance for a  Victimless Economy and Nation, or HEAVEN. That was in 2056.

This HEAVEN though was slightly different to our traditional view. The America of the 2070’s is a far different world from the one we know today. All of the predictions about increased lifespan, and decreased Social Security money in the government coffers has created an environment where people are encouraged to die. At age 85 you are eligible to enter the HEAVEN program, it costs nothing, and for 10 years your every need is looked after. You can live in a ‘resort’ locale, and be pampered. The only catch, when the 10 years are up, euthanasia awaits the recipient, a final demonstration of the governments largess.

Ten years can be a short time, what might happen if during that time you change your mind? Is there a way to avoid the inevitable?  Sarah Rally is just two weeks away from her 95th birthday and with a further life expectancy of another 25 years is less than happy at the prospect of being a victim of euthanasia. This is but one of the story lines that Nan Becklean explores in H.E.A.V.E.N.

Nan Becklean paints an interesting picture of what the world may look like in 60 years. It is not so much the technology that I found interesting, in fact that aspect is mostly played down. Rather it is the lack of basic skills that most people posses. Other than the ability to sign your name on the odd occasion, handwritten notes are a rarity. Students no longer need to learn to write in school. Even books are something that have little but antiquarian value.

The cell phone has been replaced by the Omniplus, a device that has many uses, I guess it is the iPhone of the future! Robots are also in common use, but they are not human effigies but rather animals, robotic crocodiles for example are used to provide security to the community where Sarah lives. In fact it is Ben the robotic crocodile that adds an interesting sub plot to the story. Is is possible for a robot to develop a human like ability to judge right from wrong?

Can Sarah avoid her contacted fate? Is it possible to find a solution to her dilemma with only two weeks to go before the final act? It would not be fair to the reader to explore the plot further, but I will say theat the ending is not what you expect. There is a sting in the tail that will surprise you.

I enjoyed H.E.A.V.E.N a great deal, it is well thought out, and as I noted earlier the ‘technology’ is not the star of the show, it does not overshadow the people. The characters are well developed, and the plot line a very plausable one.

You can order your copy of H.E.A.V.E.N by clicking on the cover art above.

Simon Barrett

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