Afterword by Nina Schuyler
What’s it About?
Schuyler truly pulls readers into a suspenseful and timely story, one that explores the dangers and unpredictability of advancing technology while also detailing a beautiful story of love, war, and sacrifice.
Is artificial intelligence so powerful that it can recapture the beauty and emotions of a lost loved one? Or is it so dangerous that it can paint a different picture about someone you thought you knew?
Afterword (CLASH Books) by Nina Schuyler is a captivating new novel that explores the dangers of AI woven into a beautiful tale of love and belonging. It follows the story of Virginia, a mathematician who has dedicated her life to creating an artificial intelligence replication of her deceased husband, Haru. Eventually successful, Virginia finds immense value in the ability of AI to imitate a real human being. Lonely herself after the love of her life has died, the computer version of Haru allows her to revive him and communicate with him as if he were still alive.
Good Intentions with Terrible Consequences
As the novel begins, Virginia has sold her technology to a Chinese company in the hope that they can create similar companion-like AI beings for other people. Virginia sees her technology as a revolutionary way to ease loneliness in the aging population.
But the Chinese company has other ideas.
Virginia is horrified to learn that her life’s work is being manipulated by the company to spy on Chinese citizens and monitor their conversations, with many being arrested or killed as a result. Even under the ownership of the Chinese company now, is there a way for Virginia to still manipulate the technology to stop the company’s sinister practices?
In doing so, Virginia is pulled into a web of lies and deceit that makes her question who Haru really is. She is forced to weigh the guilt of what her creation has caused with the love she has for Haru. It is an impossible choice and one that deeply challenges Virginia’s belief in herself, her love for Haru, and her love of technology.
Schuyler’s writing format rotates between Virginia’s present conflict with her AI technology and stories from Virginia and Haru’s past. These flashbacks brilliantly provide insight into Virginia’s early life and how she fell in love with both mathematics and with Haru.
Later in the story, Schuyler writes about Haru’s experience in the war from the perspective of his personal journal. These riveting flashbacks allow readers to hear Haru’s words and thoughts from this traumatic time for him, and further develops Haru’s character beyond the AI version of him that Virginia has created.
Explores Humanity and the Ethics of AI
Schuyler truly pulls readers into a suspenseful and timely story, one that explores the dangers and unpredictability of advancing technology while also detailing a beautiful story of love, war, and sacrifice. It’s a novel that makes readers think deeply about the benefits versus consequences of using AI technology to attempt replicating human beings.
Is companionship through AI comparable to interactions with real human beings, and is it worth the consequences that come with new technology? This is a question very relevant in our world today and makes this novel all the more compelling. This is, without a doubt, a story that will linger on readers’ minds long after the last chapter.
About Nina Schuyler:
Nina Schuyler’s short story collection, In this Ravishing World, won the W.S. Porter Prize for Short Story Collections and The Prism Prize for Climate Literature, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2024. Her novel, The Translator, won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for General Fiction and was a finalist for the William Saroyan International Writing Prize. Her novel, The Painting, was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. Her book, How to Write Stunning Sentences, was a Small Press Distribution bestseller, and her new craft book, Stunning Sentences: The Creative Writing Journal with 80 New Prompts from Beloved Authors to Improve Your Style, was published by Fiction Advocate in November 2022.
She teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco, Stanford Continuing Studies, and for the independent bookstore, Book Passage, and The Writing Room. She writes a column about prose style for Fiction Advocate and reviews books for The Millions. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons, where she hikes, bodysurfs, and writes in a small room, looking out at a tall palm tree.
Publish Date: 5/23/2023
Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Author: Nina Schuyler
Page Count: 229 pages
Publisher: CLASH Books