Book Review: “Aeternum Ray”
Without even reading a word of Tracy Atkins’s novel, Aeternum Ray, you have to start by giving him a pat on the back for courage. In everything from its form to its substance, Aeternum Ray is a challenging novel. Going well against the grain of most futurist and transhumanist fiction – with their dystopian and gritty elements – Atkins attempts to explore the idea of a post-Singularity future from a genuinely optimistic viewpoint. By its very nature a post-Singularity future is effectively impossible to speculate on, and yet, that is exactly what Aeternum Ray attempts to do.
The novel takes the form of the memoirs of William Babington, a man born of our our time who lives to see a technological singularity and than catalog the course of the future. In the opening chapters of the novel, Babington writes of his experiences growing up in the 80′s and 90′s and slowly moves onto the earth-shaking events of his later natural life. Although there is hardly anything revolutionary expressed in these chapters, they do offer an insightful, almost-anthropological look at our modern era, and the predictions of the near future are both exciting and well-conceived. Although Atkins does place an almost narrow-minded focus on the development of future AIs, to the exclusive of other technological progress, it is easy to offer some literary liberties given the expansive goal of covering four decades in as many chapters.