Jun 082021

Booklist: Sharpson’s debut novel takes place in the 2200s in the Caspian Republic, a totalitarian state that is in theory a safe haven from “the Machine,” inhabitants’ term for the rest of the world and its utopian society administered by and populated with sentient AI. The narrative follows Nikolai South, an operative for StaSec, one of the two security forces in charge of maintaining the status quo in the Republic. When a prominent, rabidly anti-Machine journalist dies and is revealed to have been an AI living in a clone body, South is assigned to look after the AI widow of the deceased as she comes to view her husband’s remains. He is thrown into a whirlpool of intrigue as various factions conspire to use the widow’s visit for their own ends, and is simultaneously dragged back into his own muddled past by the widow’s resemblance to his own dead wife. Well-written and suitably grim, this picture of one dystopian holdout in a utopian world should please many sf readers interested in visions of a post-AI future.