Length: 171 pages
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Mike Kepler doesn’t believe in the existence of a natural or real Heaven and Hell – no one born in the 28th century does. But recruited by the Taipei Corporation, he finds out that there is a Heaven and there is a Hell, created by the corporation and controlled by its people. The workings are simple. Mike pulls people out of their time at the moment that they die, their eternal bodies devoid of any problems with the help of medical technology. These people then face a trial, ruled by the judges of the Taipei Corporation on the guidelines of The Church, the single, reigning religion. And then, their eternal fate is sealed – an eternal life of bliss in Heaven or a damned eternity in Hell. Mike likes his job… until he realizes that there’s a lot more to the program than the noble endeavor it portrays. And that’s when he has a choice to make – accept what is and move on… or fight for what’s right and face the risk of eternal damnation or existence in eternal obscurity.
Heaven 2.0 has a lot going for it. It’s an extremely interesting concept, built on great imagination. It’s written quite well, not leaving all that much to be desired writing style wise. It flows very well and doesn’t really ever come to a point that you’d get bored.
The crux of the book lies in its moral issues – what’s right and what’s wrong and who is allowed to judge that? The issues addressed in the book are an extension of the moral issues existent today. But the addition of power in the hands of people that can alter these issues and decide a person’s guilt makes all the difference.
While the existent of one reigning religion and one reigning language may seem like a good thing, it leaves you wondering about freewill. Why should you not believe what you want to believe? As the story progresses, you come across instances where you feel like that which is happening is extremely unfair – and it is. Justice, extended on the basis of a set number of rules, leaving no deviation for feelings or morality as is felt (not written in a book), can get pretty unjust. Can you send someone to Hell for one mistake when he’s already repented and spent his entire life making up for his indiscretion? Or can you send a man to Hell because he chooses to spend his life a certain way in the 21st century – a way that is deemed unethical only after years of scientific research has allowed society to, in the 28th century, deem it so? And over that , who is anyone to send a man to Hell for an eternity of torture?
These are the questions the reader will end up asking himself as the characters themselves begin to question the ethics of a project created for the apparent greater good and greater justice. What I really liked though, is the way Scott Haworth has shown that in spite of scientific and technological advancements that can change part of your beliefs, humans retain their humanity. And this is separate from all that you may be taught and told – something that will refuse to stay down when humanity is threatened. Good is inherent. The characters are normal people, living normal lives in a job that forces them to question their surroundings… and face the difficult truth.
It’s a very easy read that moves along without much effort and doesn’t slow down. The only dampener, in my opinion, was the end. While the book raises some essential questions, the end does not seem too apt in the bigger picture of things. It still leaves you with the feeling of ‘This shouldn’t have happened’. But then, when you think about it, you realize that there might not have been any other way to end it. The end still does not answer a simple question – Who is anyone to decide someone’s predicament for all eternity? But if you take it with the understanding that the base of the story is what it is, that there is no alternate belief or a real Hell or Heaven, you can accept the end (albeit a little grudgingly).
All in all, a quick, easy read that holds you from the beginning to the end. Scott Haworth is a talented author and one, who seems like he can create great works of fiction with his imagination. A great read for fans of science fiction who are willing to give the author some leeway.