After almost dying on Mars, astronaut Liz Anderson returns to Earth, but not to a hero’s welcome. America is in turmoil. The war is over, but the insurgency has just begun. So while life on Mars may have been deadly, at least up there she knew who the enemy was. Along with her, Liz has brought the remnants of the artificial intelligence that waged war on two planets. Buried somewhere deep within the cold electronic circuits lies the last vestiges of her dead partner Jianyu. Liz is torn, unsure whether he’s somehow still alive in electronic form or just a ploy by an adversary that will go to any length to win. Heartbroken and treated with suspicion, she finds herself caught up in the guerrilla war being waged on Earth, wondering if the AI threat is truly gone, or if it has only just begun.
This gripping, cerebral sequel to Retrograde sees astronaut Liz Anderson returning to Earth, which has been ravaged by a nuclear war waged against humanity by artificial intelligence. She is greeted with distrust and loathing by an American public still grieving over massive death tolls, who believe she may have been on the side of the AIs, and an interrogation from the U.S. senate about the hard drives she carries that may contain the digitized consciousness of her dead lover, Jianyu. When Liz's life is threatened by soldiers seeking revenge and AIs help her escape, she questions her allegiances. After Jianyu's consciousness is uploaded into the body of a braindead organ donor, the two of them flee, taking direction from AIs who seem to know more about them than they know about themselves. With scientific detail that will please fans of hard SF, Cawdron raises interesting questions about the nature of consciousness. The story sets itself apart from tales that revel in dystopia by imagining what comes after, as humans and AIs learn to collaborate. This solid and suspenseful novel is self-contained and accessible to new readers, but they'll certainly want to seek out the first book and learn more about Cawdron's fascinating future.