In 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 for 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
"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
"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
"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