Sen Anon is assigned to be a witness for the Department of Transition, recording the changes in the environment as the world begins to rewild. Abandoned by her mother in a cabin somewhere in Upstate New York, Sen will observe the monumental ecological shift known as the Great Transition, the final step in Project Afterworld. Around her drones buzz, cameras watch, microphones listen, digitizing her every move. Privately she keeps a journal of her observations, which are then uploaded and saved, joining the rest of humanity on Maia, a new virtual home. Sen was seventeen years old when the Digital Human Archive Project (DHAP) was initiated. 12,000,203,891 humans have been archived so far. Only Sen remains. As Sen struggles to persist in the face of impending death, [storyworker] ad39-393a-7fbc works to unfurl the tale of Sen's whole life, offering up an increasingly intimate narrative, until they are confronted with a very human problem of their own.
Urbanski, with her debut novel, After World, has created a beautiful end for the human race ... An intelligent, defiant novel, akin to any of Annalee Newitz’s writings while also brushing shoulders with some of the great questions of identity and consciousness brought up in the works of William Gibson. Like those authors, Urbanski has written what might be described as science fiction.
In contrast to other post-apocalyptic novels, Urbanski’s descriptions of nature are lush and stunning, and it’s clear how much place influenced this novel. Just as Octavia Butler took inspiration from suburban Los Angeles in her dystopic fiction, the forests and natural world of New York State has inspired Urbanski to create a world pulsing with life (just not human life). She resists the urge to destroy the landscape of this post-apocalyptic world and instead has the devastation manifest in the bodies of the surviving humans ... This profound reflection on the act of writing is really what the book is all about. Urbanski examines witnessing, writing, and subjectivity through the lens of artificial intelligence, yet the questions she poses remain uniquely human.