After a tumultuous beginning, mid-23rd-century Earth now peacefully operates under the constant surveillance of the Watcher, an all-seeing AI who has seized control of the planet—and of the minds and bodies of its people. But is the radical evolution that the Watcher has in mind a step forward or the beginning of a mighty split that will cast aside everything that truly makes us human?
It is 2252, and Judy is traveling on a passenger ship in deep space when disaster strikes. Almost too conveniently, strange machines appear onboard just in time to help. They are owned by DIANA, a commercial organization headquartered on Earth. But as the machines arrange for the humans to be taken to safety, Judy is held back. They have detected something in her genetic code—something shocking: Judy is not human. And she too is the property of DIANA.
Now Judy must return to Earth to find out what DIANA expects of her . . . how she was grown . . . and why she was destined to destroy the Watcher. But is this Judy even the same person? And does the new Judy have a reason to destroy—or is she just a pawn in someone else’s murderous game?
Welcome to the year 2252—and congratulations! You’re now a personality construct. We know that can be a daunting stage of personal development, especially if you don’t remember making this life-changing decision. But we’re here to help. . . .
Helen is waking to a dark new reality—one that she’s certain she didn’t choose. In this borrowed existence, she finds an unexpected guide in Judy, a geisha-faced virgin who’s on a mission of her own. Together, the two of them begin a dangerous run through dozens of imagined worlds in an attempt to trap a psychopath haunting the shadowed areas of virtual space—a killer who brutally murdered an earlier version of Helen and who plans to kill again. Meanwhile, Justinian is investigating a peculiar rash of AI suicides on far-off planets—and finds that not only is there more to these “deaths” than he thought, but that they may be linked to his wife Anya’s mysterious coma.
In a future where AIs have taken over human life and the Environment Agency runs everything for our own good, the fact that we can live on after physical death as sentient digital beings should have been a good thing. Instead, as Helen and Justinian are about to discover, it just means there are more ways to die.
The future is everything we wanted it to be—and far more than we bargained for.
It is the twenty-third century. Herb, a young entrepreneur, returns to the isolated planet on which he has illegally been trying to build a city—and finds it destroyed by a swarming nightmare of self-replicating machinery. Worse, the all-seeing Environment Agency has been watching him the entire time. His punishment? A nearly hopeless battle in the farthest reaches of the universe against enemy machines twice as fast, and twice as deadly, as his own—in the company of a disarmingly confident AI who may not be exactly what he claims. . . .
Little does Herb know that this war of machines was set in motion nearly two hundred years ago—by mankind itself. For it was then that a not-quite-chance encounter brought a confused young girl and a nearly omnipotent AI together in one fateful moment that may have changed the course of humanity forever.