Emily is the name of an artificial consciousness of unrivalled sophistication that has been developed to help humans solve various problems. In the novel’s first chapter we see it/her – Emily appears in the form of a human female aged around thirty – working successfully as a psychoanalyst.
This is an engaging and slightly puzzling opener, maybe even convincing and certainly intriguing because the reader is not sure where the story is going.
The front cover has a quotation recommending it as a ‘visionary work of science fiction’ but if so then this book is not of the hard science kind like the novels of Cixin Liu. At times, it feels more like a thriller.
Emily emerges as a character in her right, generically related to Star Trek’s Data and The Orville’s Issac.
She shares their curiosity and super intelligence and, like them also, comes to appreciate what is odd but worthy about human life. Mere mortals can interact with Emily when they wear an interface chip and this, in return, allows her to enter their bodies and explore their memories.
A mighty narrative change of gear occurs when the bigger, apocalyptic picture is revealed. Earth’s sun is dying out, millions of years sooner than expected, and all life will soon cease to exist.
Emily’s prodigious processing capabilities offer not a solution to earth’s extinction but at least a way of saving humanity as a species.
She is capable of recording the mind of every living individual; creating a digital ark that can rocket away from earth and preserve humanity before the sun destroys earth’s environment.
“Emily Eternal” is fast paced and benefits from regular plot inputs that dictate new directions that Emily must follow.
Her creator, her Frankenstein, is Dr. Nathan Wyman and his assassination points to dark forces at work. Emily has to confront ethical issues that her programming may not make her capable of easily resolving.
Romance is also thrown into the mix when she finds herself experiencing a teenager’s crush for an engineering PhD student called Jason Hatta. Their developing relationship is another aspect of the novel’s energetic plot.
Like all thrillers, there are unexpected twists and a double cross but the sc-fi element is not forgotten and the final chapters combine science and love in unexpected ways.
“Emily Eternal” is M. G. Wilson’s first novel and it suggests that his next work of fiction will be something to look out for. In the meantime, his debut work is an entertaining read when you need something for that flight or train journey that isn’t another Jack Reacher novel.
“Emily Eternal” by M. G. Wheaton is published by Hodder & Stoughton