Not an Artificial Intelligence, but an Artificial Consciousness | Review: Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton

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Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton Publication Date: 7th May, 2019 Paperback: 292 pages   Genre: Science fiction, Adult Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.

She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human. 

Should You read Emily Eternal?

“It’s dark, way too dark for the middle of the day. And that’s not where the sky’s supposed to be.”

Emily Eternal tells us the story about Emily, an A.C.(Artificial Consciousness) who has to save the world from the sun which has begun to die. Well, not “die” exactly…but

“..it made a sudden and explosive phase shift from a yellow giant to a red giant. “

This can happen actually, in reality, and I read about in this school and it freaked me out. Basically, when the Sun starts to “die” out, it will send out radiation and solar flares which will affect the electricity which basically runs everything on this earth. From water supply to hospitals, everything will be affected without electricity. There will be no stopping of any disease. earth will literally go back to the dark ages and humanity just might perish. However, what’s the point of Emily?

Emily was built as the last hope of humanity and that’s why she’s not an A.I. but an A.C., as close to a superhuman. In Emily’s words,

My creator-Nathan- designed me to interface with and decode human minds. This is more about learning through emotional and environmental response and less overtly about math-based decision making. Hence AC, rather than AI.

Throughout the pages, we see how similar Emily is to a human. She has hopes, bitterness, dreams, doubts, crushes. All this sense of normalcy is brought to a grinding halt when the president of the US and some other scientists visit the lab and ask Emily to do something unthinkable, but necessary to save humans. After much debate and thinking on her part, Emily decides the help and therein lies another difference between an AI and an AC. An A.I. would immediately agree to the proposition, no matter how maddening it was. No sooner than Emily starts to work than the lab is attacked and Emily watches, helplessly, as her creator along with all her scientists is killed. The lab is a pile of rubble and Emily is all alone except she isn’t. Jason Hatta, her crush and one of the volunteers in the project that Emily was working on, had confiscated an interface chip with which he can see and maintain contact with Emily. Now, Emily has some enormous tasks ahead of her: Save mankind, Help Jason and sheriff Mayra from getting killed and in turn saving herself, fight against the corporation that orchestrated the attack and also fights her sister?

The book is short, about 290 pages, but it took me longer to finish than I normally would’ve and that’s not a bad thing, either. Of course, there were some scientific jargons I had to skim through but I enjoyed the story told through Emily’s perspective. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Emily and her “humanity”. An AC crushing on a human is not new for me but this was sweet and I rooted for them throughout the book. Emily understands consent and acknowledges moments where she crossed a line. Her program is only five years old, and despite having the appearance and maturity of someone in their thirties, Emily is still very innocent. It’s quite sweet watching her hold firm to her morals because her creator did – and then because she’s decided it’s the right thing to do. I loved Jason and Mayra as well. They try to understand her instead of ridiculing her or dismissing her.

Overall, I highly recommend this sci-fi novel for its unique characters, clever plot line, the philosophical and moral questions it brings up, its pace, its twists and turns which eventually led us to a fulfilling conclusion.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT:

About the Author:

Born in Texas, M.G. Wheaton worked in a computer factory before getting his start as a writer for such movie magazines as Total Film, Fangoria, Shivers, SFX and several others. After leaving journalism, Wheaton worked as a writer for video games, comic books, and movies, including writing scripts for New Line, Sony, Universal, Miramax, HBO, A&E, Syfy, Legende, Disney Channel, and others while working with filmmakers such as Sam Raimi, Michael Bay, Steven Soderbergh, George Tillman, Gavin O’Connor, Janusz Kaminski, and Clark Johnson. 

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What do you think? Have you read Emily Eternal? Did my review manage to convince you to read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.