After World

S. & S. Audio. Dec. 2023. 10:32 hrs. ISBN 9781797170381. $23.99. SF
Sen Anon is assigned by the Department of Transition to witness the changes in the environment as Earth heals itself. She is also the last living human. Cameras and microphones track Sen’s behavior, uploading the data to the artificial intelligence charged with chronicling Sen’s story for the Digital Human Archive Project. As the AI works to make sense of the woman’s life, it encounters a devastating problem of its own: it falls in love with Sen. This growing intimacy fosters an unfamiliar sense of regret within the AI when it recognizes the cost of driving humanity to extinction. Conceptually brilliant, Urbanski’s debut is a tragic story that embraces philosophical musings rather than a violent catastrophe. The nonlinear narrative and informal storytelling style meant to represent the artificial intelligence’s point of view is often vague and confusing. However, the combined narration of Sura Siu, Emily Tremaine, Cindy Kay, and Kevin R. Free provides a rueful experience that pulls no punches in this timely exploration of humanity’s role in environmental stewardship and the impact of artificial intelligence.
VERDICT An unconventional postapocalyptic story recommended for fans of Brandon Ying Kit Boey’s Karma of the Sun and Nick Fuller Googins’s The Great Transition.
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