by Helen Phillips
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Pub Date 06 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 16 Aug 2024
Simon Element, S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books
In a city addled by climate change and populated by intelligent robots called “hums,” May loses her job to artificial intelligence. In a desperate bid to resolve her family’s debt and secure their future for another few months, she becomes a guinea pig in an experiment that alters her face so it cannot be recognized by surveillance.
Seeking some reprieve from her recent hardships and from her family’s addiction to their devices, she splurges on passes that allow them three nights’ respite inside the Botanical Garden: a rare green refuge where forests, streams, and animals flourish. But her insistence that her son, daughter, and husband leave their devices at home proves far more fraught than she anticipated, and the lush beauty of the Botanical Garden is not the balm she hoped it would be. When her children come under threat, May is forced to put her trust in a hum of uncertain motives as she works to restore the life of her family.
Written in taut, urgent prose, Hum is a work of speculative fiction that unflinchingly explores marriage, motherhood, and selfhood in a world compromised by global warming and dizzying technological advancement, a world of both dystopian and utopian possibilities. As New York Times bestselling author Jeff VanderMeer says, “Helen Phillips, in typical bravura fashion, has found a way to make visible uncomfortable truths about our present by interrogating the near-future.”
“An indelible family portrait and a narrative tour de force, HUM generates almost unbearable tension and unease from start to end. Stunning, strangely beautiful, and written from a place of deep compassion but also a clear and analytical eye. Helen Phillips, in typical bravura fashion, has found a way to make visible uncomfortable truths about our present by interrogating the near-future. I loved it.”—Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times-bestselling author of Hummingbird Salamander