What If You Die, But Your Email Doesn’t?

I really enjoyed Laurie Frankel’s new romantic novel “Goodbye For Now“, about a Seattle software engineer who creates what he thinks will be a way to ease the suffering of the living, by finding a way for them to digitally talk to the dead.

When Sam Elling, a semi-nerdy, but brilliant programmer, first develops his miracle software; he does it for love. But Sam’s computer-dating algorithm not only delivers his perfect soul-mate, Meredith; it also morphs into a program  so intelligent that it can almost perfectly recreate dear departed loved ones in digital form.

The book is funny, touching, and oh-so-very sad. It accurately captures the tenderness of love, and the desperate, gut-wrenching emptiness of grief.

The book’s premise; that digital data such as emails, texts, video chats, and blog posts that you create while you are living, could power a program that is virtually indistinguishable from the real you after you die; is both intriguing and kind of  creepy.

If you had the choice; would you video chat, email, or text with the digital doppelgänger of your dead loved one, instead of facing the unbearable loneliness of life without them? Would that keep you from actually healing and moving on? Even if it did;would you care?

These are the questions that Sam and Meredith face as they start “Repose”; their new business that reunites the living with the digital dead. They’re also the same ones that haunt them as their love unfolds in ways they could never have imagined.

But, what made the book special for me, was how accurately it captures  life in Seattle. When I left there two years ago; I really didn’t think I’d miss it all that much. It may be beautiful, but after 14 years of steel-grey skies; I’d pretty much had enough.

But as it turns out, I really do miss it. In a quirky twist of Pacific Northwest irony; a book about digitally reanimating the dead, brought Seattle very much back to life for me.

It’s the perfect book for computer geeks, romantics, coffee-lovers, and rainy beach walkers everywhere.

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