Autonomy

By (author): Victoria Hetherington

In a near future ravaged by illness, one woman and her AI companion enter a dangerous bubble of the superrich.

It’s 2035: a fledging synthetic consciousness ?wakes up? in a lab. Jenny, the lead developer, determined to nurture this synthetic being like a child, trains it to work with people at the border of the American Protectorate of Canada. She names it Julian.

Two years later, Slaton, a therapist at a university, is framed by a student for arranging an illegal abortion. She follows the student to America and is detained at the border, where she meets Julian in virtual space. After a week of interviewing, he decides to stay with her, learning about the world, the human condition, and what it means to fall in love. Meanwhile, a mysterious plague is spreading across the world. Only the far-seeing and well-connected Julian can protect Slaton from the impending societal collapse.

Autonomy is an ambitious philosophical novel about the possibilities for love in a world in which human bodies are either threatened or irrelevant.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

AUTHOR

Victoria Hetherington

Victoria Hetherington worked as a butcher and an artist’s model before graduating to writing just about anything you can imagine for money. Their debut novel, Mooncalves, was a finalist for the Amazon First Novel Award 2020. Victoria lives in Toronto.


Reviews

Autonomy is a beautifully written and profoundly enthralling novel that made me wonder if Joan Didion had started writing literary fiction. Set in a near future where Canada is a protectorate of the United States and highly advanced AI has begun to express its desire for embodiment, Victoria Hetherington’s second novel is an interspecies love story as well as an apocalyptic cautionary tale. Mind-bending and affecting, it deserves a wide readership.
– Michael Redhill, award-winning author of Bellevue Square

Autonomy gives us a strange love story between a disembodied AI and a struggling woman in the midst of class strife, plague, and environmental disaster. Hetherington’s depictions of the near-future are very nearly depictions of our present, with its surveillance and cruelty, its global wastes and losses. Hetherington’s vision is bleak, but their glittering prose gives even the most monstrous realities of late-capitalism an unsettling glimmer.
– Liz Harmer, author of The Amateurs and Strange Loops

Set in the near future, Hetherington explores the relationship between a woman and her AI companion against the backdrop of a Canada on the brink of collapse. Hetherington leads us through a gripping account of what it means to exist ? for the living and for the AI who desires life. Haunting and compelling in both vision and imagination, Autonomy is filled with powerful insights into our human need for survival, companionship, and constant questioning of mortality.
– Ann YK Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety and Once Upon An Hour

Victoria Hetherington’s intimate and eerie forewarning to a not-so-distant future is remarkable, and I couldn’t put it down. Autonomy is an assured, grounded, and fresh feminine perspective in the world of science fiction storytelling. A much-needed voice!
– Aisling Chin-Yee, Canadian film director, writer and producer

Hetherington’s Autonomy is nominally a dystopian vision, but it is marinated so reasonably in what is now, that it’s almost too late for it to be cautionary. Hetherington’s real shocks are managed at sentence level ? causal phrases that turn on precise, alarming language. A breathtaking book.
– Tony Burgess, screenwriter and author of Pontypool Changes Everything

Autonomy is a novel about being human in a world that does not understand your value.
– Foreword Reviews

Over punchy, effortless chapters Hetherington spins a delectably serpentine tale.
– Toronto Star

In Autonomy, Hetherington provides a philosophical rumination on the nature of human agency in the guise of a dystopian narrative about technology and a global pandemic.
– The Shakespearean Rag

Autonomy invites you to look deeper, and perhaps give it a re-read.
– Literary Treats

What separates Hetherington’s dystopias from the usual forays into speculative terror is the elegance and poignancy of the writing, which floats from clause to clause like a butterfly perusing flowers.


– Quill & Quire (starred review)

This is a remarkable work of fiction. Highly recommended.
– Vancouver Sun

Fictional encounters with artificial intelligence tend to end badly, Hetherington upends this trope. The relationship between Slaton and Julian, at times tender, at times tense, never flickers with malice, hidden or otherwise.
– Literary Review of Canada

Awards

There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×
In a near future ravaged by illness, one woman and her AI companion enter a dangerous bubble of the superrich.

It’s 2035: a fledging synthetic consciousness ?wakes up? in a lab. Jenny, the lead developer, determined to nurture this synthetic being like a child, trains it to work with people at the border of the American Protectorate of Canada. She names it Julian.

Two years later, Slaton, a therapist at a university, is framed by a student for arranging an illegal abortion. She follows the student to America and is detained at the border, where she meets Julian in virtual space. After a week of interviewing, he decides to stay with her, learning about the world, the human condition, and what it means to fall in love. Meanwhile, a mysterious plague is spreading across the world. Only the far-seeing and well-connected Julian can protect Slaton from the impending societal collapse.

Autonomy is an ambitious philosophical novel about the possibilities for love in a world in which human bodies are either threatened or irrelevant.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

Reader Reviews

Details

Dimensions:

272 Pages
8.5in * 5.5in * 1in
320gr

Published:

February 08, 2022

City of Publication:

Toronto

Country of Publication:

CA

Publisher:

Dundurn Press

ISBN:

9781459748477

Book Subjects:

FICTION / Dystopian

Featured In:

All Books

Language:

eng

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