Hello Humans! Some of my Twitter followers may recognise that Emily Eternal was the first book featured in my #NonStopNetgalley readathon, kindly co-hosted by my good pal Asha from A Cat, A Book and a Cup of Tea. Feeling a little behind on my ARCs I set out on a quest to read one book a day to try and reduce the pile somewhat. Emily Eternal was the first book on my list!
Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.
She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.
So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.
As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.
I’ll be honest, 90% of the time I read books featuring AI, it’s because I’m looking for book recommendations for my spouse, who is an AI programmer (video games not robots), it’s not always because I’m interested in the book myself – though I’m a burgeoning science fiction fan thanks to the efforts of some good friends. However, Emily Eternal was one of those books that were absolutely written with people like me in mind, people who don’t want pages of physics theories, who are quite happy to believe that the science alluded to works, I don’t need the schematics and equations. It’s just the right level of detail for me to feel like it’s believable without feeling like I need a textbook to one side.
This story, although it is written from the perspective of an artificial consciousness, is far more about humanity. It’s a cliché, more so than ever in science fiction, but this book really does look at what it is to be human. What impressed me is that the book manages to do so without, if you’ll pardon my turn of phrase, being wanky? So often these books get…overtly introspective, whereas this book prompts those same questions but it allows you to form them yourself as the reader rather than spelling them out on the page. It’s masterful showing as opposed to telling and I was put in mind, a little bit, of the feeling you get from a Becky Chambers book.
I don’t think, however, that the writing is as tight as that of our beloved Becky. I definitely warmed to the style by the end of the book but I found it a little stilted, to begin with, and the book isn’t awfully quick to start anyway – I would recommend sticking with it if you feel in danger of a DNF, because things get far weirder and far more dynamic towards the end. I think perhaps I’m just used to a more lyrical writing style and it comes down to personal preference.
This is a book to savour, let yourself come to know Emily and how she understands the world, you’ll find yourself (as I did) far more invested in the life and feelings of an artificial consciousness than even I thought possible!
This is a great take on the ‘impending apocalypse’ novel and I’ll be interested to see what comes next from this author.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Emily Eternal is available now!
What say you? Would you read Emily Eternal? Let me know in the comments below!