Set on a remote island in a post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden world, this electrifying novel is destined to become a modern classic.
Anax thinks she knows her history. She'd better. She's now facing three Examiners, and her grueling all-day Examination has just begun. If she passes, she'll be admitted into the Academy--the elite governing institution of her utopian society.
But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she's been taught isn't the whole story. And that the Academy isn't what she believes it to be.
In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax's examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy. Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim?
Outstanding and original, Beckett's dramatic narrative comes to a stunning close. This perfect combination of thrilling page-turner and provocative novel of ideas demands to be read again and again.
Anax, the dedicated student historian at the center of Beckett's brutal dystopian novel, lives far in the future--the distant past events of the 21st century are taught in classrooms. The world of that era, we learn, was ravaged by plague and decay, the legacy of the Last War. Only the island Republic, situated near the bottom of the globe, remained stable and ordered, but at the cost of personal freedom. Anax, hoping her scholarly achievements will gain her entrance to the Academy, which rules her society, has extensively studied Adam Forde, a brilliant and rebellious citizen of the Republic who fought for human dignity in the midst of a regimented, sterile society. To join the Academy's ranks, Anax undergoes a test before three examiners, and as the examination progresses, it becomes clear that her interpretations of Adam's life defy conventional thought and there may be more to Adam--and the Academy--than she had imagined. Though the trappings of Beckett's dystopian society feel perhaps too Brave New World, the rigorous narrative and crushing final twist bring a welcome freshness to a familiar setup. (Apr.)
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 19, 2009
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