With humanity facing imminent extinction, a team of scientists uses technology originally designed for interstellar travel to send a test subject ten millennia into Earth’s future. Marooned in an uninhabited wilderness, microbiologist Nicholas Hindman is charged with the task of searching for remnants of the human race. Meanwhile, back in 2068 A.D., Nicholas’s partner, the team’s head physicist, Natalie Quist, leads a small crew on a transatlantic voyage in search of a second viable test subject, with their destination a small volcanic island north of Sicily.
\tAfter a trip to the coast yields no signs of survivors, Nicholas returns to Lab site to conduct an ad hoc archaeological dig, trying to piece together what happened to Natalie and the remaining members of the team, becoming more and more convinced that the species didn’t survive. On Stromboli, Natalie and her team encounter a miracle child who is the offspring of an anomalously fertile couple. Held prisoner by a local cult, they conspire to free themselves and kidnap the child.
\tAfter a narrow escape, disaster strikes: the child falls ill and dies, along with two of the four remaining crew members. The mission has failed. Natalie and the surviving team members make it back to the Lab, where they receive word of another anomalous pregnancy, but upon investigation the rumor proves false. Discouraged but not defeated, Natalie decides to send herself into the deep future.
\tOne night Nicholas is astonished to spot the flame of a lone campfire. The reunited lovers continue the search for humanity, but gradually coming to accept that the search is futile. After a happy period that feels in some way like eternity a fatal accident leaves Nicholas alone again, with new perspectives on the nature of life, time, and love.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10
Plot/Idea: With humanity on the verge of extinction, a team of scientists catapult microbiologist Nicholas Hindman into the Earth's future to search for human remains. Meanwhile, back in the past, Nicholas's teammates embark on their own perilous journey. Weed delivers a highly intriguing storyline pulled off through creative worldbuilding and plausible technology.
Prose: The writing readily pulls readers into the storytelling through in-scene development and journal entries. Powerful imagery and engaging stylistic choices add to the uniqueness of the story.
Originality: With the proliferation of climate fiction, many stories fail to make their mark. Here, Weed crafts a tale that feels wholly original and movingly conveys the full weight of the circumstances while providing a riveting read in the process.
Character/Execution: Weed provides full humanity to the cast of characters from Nicholas and Natalie Quist to other members of the transatlantic crew.
Date Submitted: August 25, 2023
10/13/2023THE AFTERLIFE PROJECT is a finalist for 2023 Prism Prize in Climate Literature