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Anthony Doyle
Seth has finally decided to do it. Yumi has already done it. Walt’s wife is doing it right now, again. And Meghan wants to understand why anyone would want to do it at all, and why one particular consortium is so eager to make sure they do. Set in a very near-future world where synthetic human hibernation has become a reality, with purpose-built hibernation facilities in most major cities, Hibernaculum explores the many facets of a technology that promises to unburden a world on the brink of collapse. Where wellness meets pure practicality, and despair finds a corner to curl up in, hibernation means different things to different people. But perhaps this sleep has dreams of its own…
Set in the year 2045, Doyle’s ambitious novel vividly depicts a world where synthetic human hibernation has been invented to save the world from its destruction. Revealing its story through blog posts, academic journals, and dream diaries and letters, Hibernaculum gradually lifts the veil, revealing a mysterious dome where people voluntarily sign up for three months or more of sleep for the love of Mother Earth—rehabilitation, rest, or a means to a temporary end. Blogger Seth Macy believes he could contribute to reducing the world's carbon footprint by going under a deep sleep. Megan Selz, unlike other curious journalists, gets the opportunity to access the Hibernaculum itself and plumb its mysteries. Yumi Almeida wakes up from her hibernation and starts to document her experience through dream diaries her doctor asks her to do.

Doyle achieves a rich, multifaceted portrayal of the Hibernaculum through intricate illustrations of its architecture and descriptions from the eyes of Megan and the Ferryman. In the beginning, where Seth laid his insights about synthetic hibernation and its possible positive effects on a dying world, the plot thickens once the enigma of its possible effects on humans is hinted at in Yumi's dream diaries. Doyle guides readers through the complexities of the story and its implications by providing outsider and insider viewpoints, as well as in teasing the inherent tension of what's in store for the Sleepers once they wake up. This approach is provocative, occasionally satirical, and will appeal to fans of thoughtful, literary-minded science fiction, though it demands attentive reading.

Although Doyle's writing is spare on character development and emotional grip, he touches upon the diversity of motivations people surrender to and the wonders and possibilities biomedical facilities could do. The story ends more eerie than it started, giving the whole a decidedly cinematic feel as it plumbs pressing questions about life and its value in the Anthropocene. Doyle has hit on something rare: an original approach to climate fiction.

Takeaway: Inventive, provocative novel probing what humanity owes the Earth.

Comparable Titles: Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes, OMar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: B
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A