Book review: Constance


by Matthew Fitzsimmons
Thomas & Mercer
343 pages
Dystopia/Thriller/Clone, AI


Buy the book on my Bookshop

I loved a lot Klara and the Sun, so when I realized the Virtual Crime Book Club hosted by Rebecca Bradley,  was going to read Constance, another novel focusing on AI, I decided to join.
It was a great discussion, with 16 members present, and the author himself came for a while!
Let me tell you why you might want to try this novel.

Constance is preparing to have a clone made of herself when she passes away. To do so, she needs regular uploads of her consciousness.
But something goes wrong during the latest update, and when she wakes up after the procedure, it’s 18 months later, and so she has no memory of what happened during that interval, plus she has to face many “neurological and psychological complications”.

So is the Constance who woke up still Constance or her clone? If she’s a clone, how did the original Constance die? She’s trying to find out where she went and what she did during these 18 months to uncover the truth and know for sure who she really is.
But easier said than done, as she faces many enemies along the way and has no idea whom she can really trust.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though I found it to be dragging at times.
I liked how it used advanced technology abilities such as cloning and “augmented consciousness” to highlight the themes of difference, identity, self, person, and immortality.
With a very smart choice name of the main character for this context!
There’s also the idea that at one point, countries clone their soldiers for war at less human cost. But then, abandon them when they are no longer needed. It doesn’t sound too far-fetched, does it?
And as behind any new invention, the possibility of some people only thinking of profit and filling up their pockets at all costs.

An important element of the book is protesters who are against such things as cloning, and even whole States (e.g. Virginia), and all the ethical issues surrounding these new inventions.
The book offers glimpses on ugly fights if/when such inventions come to be more common.

When they looked at her it was as if they were trying to decide what kind of spider they’d found in their bathroom. And if it was dangerous.
chapter 11

It would also create a bigger gap between rich and poor, as obviously only the former would have access to a cloned self.

The wealthy sensed poverty the way other people smelled something that had soured at the back of a refrigerator.
Chapter 3

This last quotation is an example of fun images. Here are two others:

The jumble of old cars were parked haphazardly like a mouthful of bad teeth. Chapter 26

Trees pressed in on both sides, all but blotting out the sky, as if the road were a crack in the earth that the forest yearned to seal up.
Chapter 29

I enjoyed all the new technological gadgets:
light-field devices, or LFD, that “transmit sound via bone conduction, sending vibrations directly to the inner ear”; quantum mainframes, biometric chips, medical wombs, biometric profiles to enter your house, rDogs to watch over your house, carbon-recapture factories, food printers, and possibly some I missed.

If she were to die, a biometric chip implanted in her neck would register her death and notify Palingenesis, which would immediately download her stored consciousness into her clone so that life could go on as seamlessly as possible. Chapter 3

In the Acknowledgements, the author explains he started this book when a thought came to him, “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone had to investigate their own death?”
I think it’s remarkable that he started from this thought and gave us this suspenseful and thoughtful novel.
I can’t wait to read volume 2. Yes, a second volume is coming (September 2022), which makes sense, but I’m not going to tell you why. You just need to read this book to the very end.

VERDICT: Suspenseful and thoughtful novel on clone, AI, memory, immortality, the self, and ethical issues at stake.

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Would you suggest another book on a similar theme?


14 thoughts on “Book review: Constance

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