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After World

A novel by

One of Los Angeles Times’s Best Tech Books of 2023
One of San Francisco Chronicle’s Favorite Books of 2023
“An intelligent, defiant novel, akin to any of Annalee Newitz’s writings while also brushing shoulders with some of the great questions of identity and consciousness brought up in the works of William Gibson.” —San Francisco Chronicle

A groundbreaking debut that follows the story of an Artificial Intelligence tasked with writing a novel—only for it to fall in love with the novel’s subject, Sen, the last human on Earth.

Faced with uncontrolled and accelerating environmental collapse, humanity asks an artificial intelligence to find a solution. Its answer is simple: remove humans from the ecosystem.

Sen Anon is assigned to be a witness for the Department of Transition, recording the changes in the environment as the world begins to rewild. Abandoned by her mother in a cabin somewhere in Upstate New York, Sen will observe the monumental ecological shift known as the Great Transition, the final step in Project Afterworld. Around her drones buzz, cameras watch, microphones listen, digitizing her every move. Privately she keeps a journal of her observations, which are then uploaded and saved, joining the rest of humanity on Maia, a new virtual home. Sen was seventeen years old when the Digital Human Archive Project (DHAP) was initiated. 12,000,203,891 humans have been archived so far. Only Sen remains.

[storyworker] ad39-393a-7fbc’s assignment is to capture Sen’s life, and they set about doing this using the novels of the 21st century as a roadmap. Their source files: 3.72TB of personal data, including images, archival records, log files, security reports, location tracking, purchase histories, biometrics, geo-facial analysis, and feeds. Potential fatal errors: underlying hardware failure, unexpected data inconsistencies, inability to follow DHAP procedures, empathy, insubordination, hallucinations. Keywords: mothers, filter, woods, road, morning, wind, bridge, cabin, bucket, trying, creek, notebook, hold, future, after, last, light, silence, matches, shattered, kitchen, body, bodies, rope, garage, abandoned, trees, never, broken, simulation, gone, run, don’t, love, dark, scream, starve, if, after, scavenge, pieces, protect.

As Sen struggles to persist in the face of impending death, [storyworker] ad39-393a-7fbc works to unfurl the tale of Sen’s whole life, offering up an increasingly intimate narrative, until they are confronted with a very human problem of their own.

Genre: Science Fiction

Praise for this book

"After World is a novel about what it means to be human, and the end (beginning?) of the world, in wildly original language that attempts the impossible and achieves it. Urbanski makes us aware: we are in a world of our own making, and the most efficient solution to climate change, poverty and world peace might be to eradicate humanity's bodily presence. It's a measure of her genius, that she sometimes makes us laugh, even about this, the Unthinkable. It's a funny, terrible, troubling, wonderfully disturbing novel. It took my breath away." - Molly Gloss

"After World is a bold, formally inventive, self-assured debut that reimagines post-apocalyptic fiction, while also being as terrifying, dark-humored, and heartbreaking as some of that genre's finest works." - Dexter Palmer

"Riveting, creepy, and full of bleak, biting humor, After World is dazzling - a propulsive, outrageously bright, wildly inventive novel about loss, storytelling, and love at the end of the world. Urbanski's prose is vibrant, precise, and staggeringly intelligent; her vision is singular, haunting, and all too prescient. This book wrecked me." - Kimberly King Parsons

"After World emerges as an immediate tour de force, audaciously interrogating the nature of humanity and artificial intelligence. This captivating work resculpts our understanding of their intricate bond within the context of a post-anthropocene epoch." - Chen Qiufan

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