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By Mark L . Lloyd

Miranda Sage is aboard a spaceship called The Misfits, hurtling back to earth, only she doesn’t realize this because she is in a stasis state living out a very ordinary and pleasant life back on earth. The stasis system, known as SDS (Stasis Deep State system), has an interesting trait: as a result of the creators fearing insanity as a result of waking consciously within its construct, a measure has been imposed on SDS to prevent people from remembering who they are in this blissfully unaware artificial reality environment.

As the story commences, Miranda is living out the remnants of a life as a 105 year old man when she abruptly awakens from SDS to find her fellow crewmates startled by a space anomaly that poses a problem for the ship. The attention of the crew soon pivots to a potential discovery of a Hidden Realm, one that some have theorized about but never really believed in and one that sounds eerily similar to beliefs and skepticism about an afterlife. The interesting thing, however, is that this debate at this time in the future might be irrelevant. Death as a concept is now an anachronism, at least for Miranda and crew, since Miranda and her colleagues have lived several lives spanning thousands of years in SDS by body jumping through stasis husks that inhibit the death state.

Eventually, the crew awakens in the year 2005 in SDS and attends school as teenagers in an effort to explore a potential access point to the Hidden Realm within the analog town of Penticton. As part of this process, they decide to go against strict SDS regulation and awaken consciously within SDS to perform this task, risking their sanity as a result.

Mark Lloyd handles all this interesting and imaginatively fertile data with adept hands, and we sense that the author is at his best when he is eschewing ordinary life scenes and writing playful group conversations between Miranda and her colleagues about the subtle physics of SDS and the pseudo-reincarnation-like drama of life cycles that play out within it.

A PLACE TO STAY FOREVER is an imaginative and quirky story that simultaneously hearkens back to both Philip K Dick and Douglas Adams.

~MP Gunderson for IndieReader