Taking a break from indie fantasy see what the latest indie sci-fi has to offer. Plus I received my first ever advance copy review request! So let’s do this!
An emissary from a distant overbearing interstellar colony arrives on the Earth-like planet Exurbia in order to stop those pesky humans from creating a potentially universe-destroying artificial intelligence machine.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate what’s so great about Exurbia is to take a look at a few of the characters. Representing the siren’s call of technological progress is Stefan Jura, a physicist who secretly longs to see the creation of a “wire-mind”, seemingly for the sole purpose of witnessing a new age. We invite God into the equation with Seer Fortmann, a revolutionary with an almost religious fervor to see it done. He describes the coming world in such biblical terms, and on at least one occasion he actually describes the process of creating a “wire-mind” as building God. And as a control subject (literally) we have my favorite character 261, a.k.a. The “Moralising” Imp (quotes added for the British-ness of spelling), a man who has been genetically altered for almost machine-like impartiality. It’s fun to watch him sway one way or another without regard to human emotion.
Exurbia presents a new perspective on science-fiction, one where, for humans, advancing technology is but a stepping stone to higher spiritual enlightenment. We are pushing evolution into new territory here with the idea that human technology (perhaps sentient machines) will someday be able to project us into the next stage, a state of being that might be altogether alien to our current form.
As an anthropology major (high-fives to all the cool guys!), I can’t help but be drawn to this kind of story. Sorry, creationists, but yes, evolution is real. And no, evolution isn’t something that happened. It happened, it’s happening, and it will continue to happen in the future. It is a fundamental property of life to evolve, but what exactly constitutes life? And assuming we survive the threats to our global civilization, where will human beings be in another million years, after our populations are separated from each other by light-years of cold, dark space.
So what do you think? Are humans ready for the Up?