Long after an asteroid nearly erases Earth’s civilization, an artificial intelligence guardian and the archived intellect of a genius must deal with the arrival of large, caterpillarlike alien colonists.
In this sci-fi novel, much-married Albert “Rudy” Rudyard Goldstein earns wealth and esteem for helping heal Earth’s abused environment. Near death, the brilliant but cantankerous fellow rejects having his neural matter uploaded and his mind rendered practically immortal. But after he dies, a doctor and his cousin, an AI expert, do it anyway. Rudy, mildly annoyed, finds himself a disembodied consciousness entrusted to a resourceful, self-sustaining AI computer presence called Mnemosyne (whom he nicknames Nessie). Rudy eventually has a diversion, as an asteroid collision mostly ends terrestrial civilization. A million years later, Rudy, Nessie, and their mound-shaped complex are Earth’s last remnants of advanced technology. The local, primitive tribes worship Nessie as a goddess. In these diminished circumstances, humanity finally has alien first contact with a race called the Jadderbadians. They are tall, segmented, caterpillarlike creatures, not really evil but disposed to regarding Homo sapiens as little more than pets and slaves (if the name Arrogant Worms didn’t already belong to a Canadian band, these beings would have it). When Nessie’s surveillance drones are discovered, the stage is set for a confrontation. Jadderbadian scientist Morticue Ambergrand—slightly more broad-minded than his cohorts—makes Rudy’s acquaintance in a startlingly close way. Raham (Confessions of a Time Traveler, 2015), prolific in generating science books for school-age readers, turns his considerable talent and vision to a grown-up, seriocomic sci-fi narrative. The arch tone should remind readers of Kurt Vonnegut, although Raham is better grounded in exobiology and science and displays a more upbeat outlook for the human (and nonhuman) condition in this engaging tale. That said, hard-sci-fi fans may cock an eyebrow over how the author introduces the planetwide conscious entities, Gaia (for Earth) and Hydra (the corresponding spirit of Jadderbad), who also take active roles. The result is a bit like Arthur C. Clarke’s big-think mind stretchers, laden with wisecracking insults and the occasional dirty joke.
An enjoyable, post-apocalypse mind romp featuring technologically bred demigods, future Stone Age tribes, and supercilious worms.