Afterworld: Flawed AI in a real world reboot. Debbie Urbanski’s debut science fiction novel looks at the what if humanity had to reboot, after it slowly collapses and society responds.
The plot sets the history before the ‘S’ disease event and then after it, however, there is no sense of drama nor action. After the event, the main character, Sen, writes about what she observes as the last human. It is a tough call and the random diversions into various musings are not enough to persuade me to battle onto the end.
Sen is designated a witness to the Great Transition to the rewilding of the world after the ‘S’ infection event happens. Sen’s diary entries – part observation part memory – lack enough drama to hold my attention. Also, she dies early on in the story making it a messy story to piece together from thereon.
Then there is the addition of the AI to observe and write about Sen as part of the Digital Human Archive Project using Sen’s uploaded journals. And then the storyworker is being monitored by another artificial intelligence known as Emly, who periodically reminds the storyworker to “interrupt human life with more nature” and keep Sen in check. The storyworker AI is the real narrative to this novel – so in effect there are two narratives.
The depth of the story is part apocalyptic, part rebirth. Humans are to be “archived” they are uploaded to the ‘Afterworld’ (a simulated paradise) but that does not seem to figure in this story unfortunately. The AI and the reboot of the world is flawed.
The style is rather experimental with the use of future technology and comment on climate change. Ultimately it is choppy and disconnected. But the different characters did not convince to carry the whole story. The style of writing of the characters was simply not distinguishable to differentiate when each one was writing.