“What kind of machine will it take to free us from ourselves, and to what lofty place will it bear us thence?”
–Z.B. Franco, Uploading the Soul, 2019 CE
Earthshine is the first installment of a science fiction series that peers more than six hundred years into the future in order to ponder the fate of the first successful human colony outside of Earth. The colony, a corporation-state built by the technology giant Genesis MTI, is a Post-Nano Age promised land, a world where wonders like quantum levitation and true artificial intelligence have not only been perfected but packaged and marketed for a society that is founded on progress and luxury. It is a place where Tika modules—neural prosthetics that directly integrate the mind with vast social media and information banks—keep every citizen hard-wired to the society and culture from the day they’re born; a place where master anthrotects create androids that walk among humans and are hardly noticed, and a place where enough money can even secure a personal, digital afterlife.
The story is told through the point-of-view of several young people in their early to mid twenties, beginning with Caan LaKay, a promising student of anthropology who lacks faith in what will become of him and his family when the utopian city of Genesia begins to slump under its own socioeconomic burdens. Oskar “Wolfie” Weisser, a friend of Caan, is an ex-thespian who must leave his education behind to go to work in the docks—the dark, impoverished underbelly of Genesia. After his father died on and interplanetary flight to Earth, Wolfie was left to care for his mother, a drug addict and victim of a rare, age-accelerating disease caused by optional gene selection she received at birth. The longer he slaves away in “Dark Town”, as the slums are known, the more he must shirk morality and mercy to endure.
Their struggles are accompanied by those of Benni Dublanc, Caan’s girlfriend. Benni, after skirting death following a vehicular accident inside the Blue Morpho, a lavish night club, awakes on an operating table as a transhuman and must face a society that does not entirely understand or accept her. She and other transhumans, such as Shirro, a prisoner of medical care and research whom she befriends, discover they are capable of strange and what should be superhuman feats and phenomena, for which their surgeons and psychologists have no explanation.
As the proud and accomplished city of Genesia falls on dire times, the future of humanity is uncertain. Some believe that Martians should return to Earth, and the Genesian dream should be abandoned. Others are not ready to give up, and talk of traveling to a faraway, Earthlike planet, where the beginnings of an even greater supercity are already underway. No matter what comes next, Caan, Wolfie, Benni, and many other everyday Genesians will play a role in a grand social and philosophical movement that will ultimately create a new epoch in human history.
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