February 27, 2023

Review: The Infinite

The Infinite The Infinite by Ada Hoffmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the final book in the Outside trilogy, wrapping up a tale of quantum supercomputers ascended to Godhood to rule over humanity, and a group of revolutionaries on a breakaway planet who wish to overthrow them. Central to the narrative is Yasira Shien, who was on the autism spectrum and as a result of mindlinking with the extradimensional-Lovecraftian-cosmic horror realm of the Outside in the last book, has now developed into a "plural," bearing many personalities in one body. Yasira, with her plurality and the mind which now hosts Outside energy, turns out to be the one thing that can defeat the Gods, and her choice to sacrifice herself to save humanity is the central plot point and decision of the book.

"If it was anyone else that's what would happen," said Yasira. There was a burning clarity in that gaze, something that unnerved Tiv. "With me, she'll try. But we all know I'm not like the rest of you anymore. My soul is half-broken. No, I know you don't like words like 'broken,' Tiv, but that's what happened. I cracked into pieces and what fills me in between the pieces is Outside. I'm the closest thing we have to Outside itself walking the earth in human form. Even closer than Ev or the gone people. And the Gods can't see Outside. Do you understand? It doesn't function according to rules they can process. Say I die. Say Nemesis tries to eat me up. That means sooner or later She takes my soul into Hers, into the very center of what makes Her a sentient being. She takes Outside inside her. She won't be able to help it. And Outside will fucking rip her apart."

This entire scenario rests on the fact that in this future, scientists has been able to confirm the existence of souls, and said soul-energy is used to power the quantum supercomputers that turn themselves into Gods. At first, Nemesis and her sisters only take terminally ill volunteers, but as their power and hubris grows, they take over the planet and mandate that every human gives up their soul at the point of death. This allows them to set up the world of the trilogy, with Nemesis and the other supercomputers the tyrannical Gods who are ruling over humanity only for their own good, really.

This is a complex book, as it has to wrap up the many plot and character threads of the previous books in the trilogy. The many multiple POVs of the previous book carry over into this one, with is the one minor ding I have against it--I wish the author had focused more on Yasira and her lover Tiv. There's also a bit of metaphysical handwaving at the end, as Yasira ascends to a Godhood of her own to defeat Nemesis and the others, somehow ending up existing in the Outside. Your mileage may vary on that, but the author thankfully doesn't dwell on it too much. These minor nitpicks aside, this is a satisfying ending to a trilogy that is one of the most inventive and absorbing in the past few years. All three books are well worth your time.

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