Behind a catch-all sub-title, this book is mainly about making a case for life after death and the need for further scientific investigation of near-death experiences.

In setting out her stall, children's fiction author and erstwhile teacher Linda Hoy, from Sheffield, UK, takes a tour through quantum science and the wisdom of the ancients, exploring 'doorways' into what the Australian Aborigines describe as Dream Time, referring back all the time to (often psychic) happenings in her own life.

To her, such portals include the near-death experience (NDE), inspiration and creativity, dreams, meditation and the emptying of the mind, all of which arise from what she calls The Effect – a phrase borrowed from John Dunne, an aeronautical engineer who, in the 1920s and 1930s, wrote books about time travel and suggested we could explore other dimensions and live our lives again in a series of 'groundhog days'.

For the first time in our history we have the resources to investigate the unexplained so, Linda asks, why don't we? 'Why such a veil of secrecy spread across everything connected with The Effect?' The answer to the question, of course, is the continuing force of scientific rationalism, although it is now beginning to be eroded by a shift in the prevailing paradigm.

Linda says this neglect of The Effect, about which we have much to learn from those who are dying, is a 'crying shame', suggesting that, as a Quaker, she is of the universalist persuasion. With a nod to Plato, she adds: 'Over and over again they have tried to share with us their realisation that there is more to life than this dark cave in which we sit and name the shadows.' Linda's frank and unsentimental testimony to this from her own life experience is, for me, the best aspect of her book.

Of course, the mainstream scientific view is that NDEs are devoid of supportive content yet of considerable interest to physiologists who regard them as a window on the interactions that accompany the gradual shutting down of bodily and especially mental processes. Observations reported by people who have undergone NDEs, however, are not made with the earthly senses but with the spiritual senses. The centre of consciousness changes because earthly senses become redundant in the NDE. This dovetails with narratives in all cultures of the world about how the soul leaves the body at the point of death.

Surprisingly, bearing in mind its subject matter, there is nothing in Linda's book about consciousness theory, which is fundamental to everything she discusses, and integral to The Effect, as she sees it. This is surely an oversight, although she does make accessible a range of other important issues which do need to be popularised among a wider public – for example, the importance of synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence, in life, and how the concept of quantum entanglement must alter our idea of 'reality'.

Geoff Ward

Mysterious Planet

September 2012

More reviews ...

© Linda Hoy, 2018