When five sentient digital beings—condemned for over three hundred years to crew the small survey ship by the all-powerful Company—encounter a mysterious black sphere, their course of action is clear: obtain the object, inform the Company, earn lots of praise.
But the ship malfunctions, and the crew has no choice but to approach the sphere and survey it themselves. They have no idea that this object—and the transcendent truth hidden within—will change the fate of all existence, the Company, and themselves.
In this science fiction novella by Paul Cornell, he uses sentient digital beings to explore what it means to be human, the nature of time, God, and identity. The unusual, quirky characters resonate with humanity and their emotions, both fears and hopes, will fully engage your every sense as you navigate their world. Whether they begin as human or as other, their identities and nature are truly what makes this story unique and intriguing.
Part of what makes the story so fantastic is Paul Cornell’s use of voice. His exploration of the plot is both elegant and multi-layered. The voice is distinctive for each character but he also uses the point of view to keep the reader grounded in the imagery and in the plot. The imagery and voice kept me immersed in the novella, barely coming up for air until I finished. The ideas aren’t not new, reminiscent of the concept introduced by Socrates but it is a very original presentation. And I love the element of deja vu used throughout the novella.
If you like original ideas in science fiction or any of Paul Cornell’s previous work, I highly recommend this novella. His characters are odd but interesting. The story is an immersive, elegant and multi-layered approach to the truth of humanity and identity. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 deja vu’s