Billions of souls in the Afterlife
Kurt Vonnegut uses his imaginative “postmortem journalism” to face his own mortality with wide-eyed, rebellious curiosity. His world expands, filled by a host of characters in an Afterlife where there are no physical boundaries or time restrictions. An unrepentant Humanist, he finds the Afterlife a perfect place to explore his unorthodox ideas and bring them back to share with his readers. In reality, Vonnegut is addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, plagued by health problems, haunted by past tragedies and dogged by writer’s block. In the mind-space between fantasy and reality, Vonnegut finds joy, wonder, and a renewed reason to live.
St. Peter is the holy Afterlife antagonist, resembling the folks who frustrated Vonnegut throughout his life on Earth. St. Peter is a gate-keeping bureaucrat stressed by Vonnegut’s unusual status of being in the Afterlife - but not yet dead. St. Peter preserves the status quo by restricting Vonnegut’s research and preventing him from interacting with characters who may have an influence on the future. St. Peter’s inflexibility makes him petty. His old-school patriarchal attitudes spark a feminist rebellion in the Afterlife.
Kilgore Trout is the doppelganger in Vonnegut’s head. The Trout side of Vonnegut’s personality actively reminds Vonnegut how he survived the hell of the Dresden bombing and reported on it. This is a large part of why Vonnegut has the courage to duel with death. Trout, however, is not entirely reliable and at the most inconvenient times he “glitches” into …
Dr. Jack Kevorkian who is charged with facilitating Vonnegut’s hypothetical “controlled death” experiments. Kevorkian thinks Vonnegut is a loose cannon but helps him because Vonnegut promises to promote his controversial humanitarian beliefs.
Isaac Asimov was Vonnegut’s contemporary and predecessor as honorary president of the American Humanist Association. As America's most prolific writer, he wrote nearly five hundred novels to Vonnegut’s measly twenty. Isaac keeps Vonnegut on his toes whenever he feels like giving up, stating; “If I couldn’t write all the time, this would be hell for me. Earth would have been a hell for me if I couldn’t write all the time. Hell itself would be bearable for me, as long as I could write all the time.”
Sir Isaac Newton was one of the greatest scientific minds in history, known for his insatiable curiosity, Knighted in 1705, ironically he was honored for his political work, not his mathematical or scientific accomplishments. Sir Isaac Newton died at Kensington, London on March 31, 1727, after 85 years on Earth and was buried in Westminster Abbey, the first scientist to be accorded that honor.
Vivian Hallinan is Vonnegut’s muse in the Afterlife. She’s a beautiful, rich, progressive thinker who he meets on the River Styx during an interview with Isaac Asimov. She keeps company with some of Vonnegut’s heroes: Eugene Debs, Clarence Darrow, and Birnum Birnum. However, each time that Kurt gets close to her, her husband Vincent Hallinan appears.
Hitler surprises Vonnegut while meeting at the far side of the Blue Tunnel, he shares remorse for his actions, which might have had anything to do with the violent deaths suffered by thirty-five million people during World War II. He and his mistress Eva Braun, of course, were among those casualties, along with four million other Germans, six million Jews, eighteen million citizens of the Soviet Union, and so on.
Virgil Maro is Vonnegut’s non-binary, gender-fluid caretaker who helps him navigate the Afterlife. Virgil, who was also his surgical nurse on Earth, is alert to Afterlife. phenomena that could harm Vonnegut. Virgil has Vonnegut’s back, but is also very busy managing the boss, St. Peter.