Ten Thoughts About Infinite by Jeremy Robinson

Infinite by Jeremy Robbins is best described like this, it's like Alice in Wonderland if Alice was a man trapped on a ship going faster than the speed of light and if Wonderland were the darkest parts of human nature.

The book opens with Will, our hero, getting stabbed in the chest and dying.  After that, shit gets weird.

As part of a generation ship in the far-flung future, Will and the rest of his crew are humankind's last desperate hope for survival.  Their mission is to go to Cognata, an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star, and establish a new homeworld for our species.  (It turns out we kinda fucked over the old one)

The trouble is, one of the crewmembers went batshit insane, started killing people and locked down the ship's computer.  Once Will recovers from his first death (the first of many) and subdues this nutbag, it's too late.  He finds himself alone hurling through space at near light speed with nothing but the vastness of the Universe to keep him company.  And it turns out he's immortal which is why he tends to die a lot.   Infinite starts off at the edges of the human experience and, from there, keeps going.

1. A Journey Into Deep Thoughts:  

The part I loved most about this book was that the story revels in the kind of questions that leave me staring into blankly into my whiskey on a lonely night.  What does it mean to be conscious?  What does it mean to be human?  Is our species doomed by our own biology?  What about AI, will we create new non-organic life someday?  What does that mean for organic life?!  Could we make a perfect computer simulation of reality??!  Are we LIVING in a perfect computer simulation of reality??!!!  What is REAL???!!!!!  IS ANYTHING FUCKING REAL!!!???  WHERE ARE MY PANTS!!!

AND WHY AM I OUT OF WHISKEY!!!!!
*passes out*

2. Deep Questions and Giant Fucking Frogs:  

The characters in this book, however, only have a few moments to ponder the unponderable before shit goes down.   Could we create AI?  Oh shit, I did and it's trying to kill me!!  What if this is a simu... SHIT  RUN!  The simulation is trying to kill me!   Does the Universe have an end?  If you don't move your ass, motherfucker, it's going to end for you!!  It's rare to have both of those work so well in a book.

3. To Survive, We Humans Must Channel Our Inner Spock: 

An early theme I found interesting is the idea that our ties within a community are incompatible with cooperation and, thus, survival.  So, on this generation ship heading for a new planet, sexual partners are pre-arranged, sexual attraction to other crew members is grounds for dismissal and seats are randomly assigned in the mess hall so that relationships can't inadvertently form.  See, because relationships lead to loyalty.  Loyalty splits populations into competing interests and we end up hitting each other in the dicks with sticks.

Which, if you are at all aware of human nature.... yeah, we would totally do that.

4. BUT What The Fuck Is The Point Otherwise?!: 

As the story goes on, the theme evolves  to something along the lines of 'relationships are what give our lives meaning.'  Which... yeah!  Our lives are largely defined by our relationships.  It's a large part of how we define ourselves and our place in this world.

It's like taking the giant ball of shit away from the dung beetle.  Do that and what do you get?

One sad little beetle.

5. Which is to say, once again, we are fucked: 

Just sayin.  I wouldn't get this book expecting to walk away with much hope for our species.

6. Who the figgity fuck is driving this thing?:  

As a fan of character-driven fiction, something about this book did bother me.   The two main characters feel like they had their legs tied together and were being dragged through the desert by the Story Horse.

There are times you can almost hear the characters say, "I am going to do this thing because the author needs me to in order to move the plot of this book.  This is a good idea."

Also, I want a Story Horse.

7. Except for Gal: 

So early in the book our hero programs an artificial intelligence that he then turns loose on the ship.  This snarky and slightly murderous AI quickly became my favorite character.  Imagine if you put Mrs. Mabel in a computer then had it try to kill you?  Pretty close.

8. Spoiler Alert... but you probably saw it coming: 

This was one of those books that ended with a kind of... meh... feel for me.  Despite feeling like it was supposed to be a big reveal, I more or less saw it coming from about halfway into the book.   And, without going to much into it, I was very much like.... oh... okay.  Yeah.  That makes sense.    Is there any booze left?

9. But not everything maybe:   

Okay, actual spoiler here.

Seriously, skip to number 10 if you don't want spoilers.

Last Chance!

Suprise!  It was all a simulation! All of it!  The whole book!

Okay, that's not entirely true.  But that wasn't the strange part.  See the Gal the slightly crazed AI I talked about earlier is designed to help Will escape an eternity of nothingness by essentially creating a virtual world for him.  She proceeds to do this and, just so the simulation takes, proceeds to royally fuck his shit up.

But, in the end, it is revealed that she fell in love with him.  Which... I don't know.  I almost have to read the entire book again to see if that makes any sense.

10. Some Parting Words:  

And to quote said snarky AI, "Life is fun.  Once you figure that out, you'll stop being such a sourpuss."



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