Just in time for ~spooky season~ comes the debut novel from Philadelphia sci-fi author Courtney Hunter. Her debut novel, Sentience, will be published on October 30th and will be available on major platforms such as Amazon and Audible. With this novel, Courtney wanted to share the story of her book’s genesis and her own ties to Philadelphia, which is an integral part of how she became a published author. A lifelong Sci-Fi fan, Courtney loves anything Promethean in nature and her favorite books, movies, and television shows are the ones that challenge the ethics of the future that we are rapidly heading towards.
ABOUT THE NOVEL:
This science fiction novel explores the ethics of Artificial Intelligence through a Turing Test of epic proportions and delves into the world of AlgorithmOS, a fictional tech company looking to be first to market with humanoid AI.
Sentience follows twenty-four individuals as they travel through a contained natural preserve to participate in a Turing Test conducted by a tech corporation willing to do anything for monetary gain. Throughout their journey, they face obstacles designed by the experiment controllers to elicit human response and emotion. However, four of these individuals are not human. Romance falls together as the world around them falls apart, revealing the lengths people will go to protect those they love, achieve success, or simply survive.
While the humans involved wrestle with where they stand on the polarizing issue of artificial intelligence and its applications, the AI in the experiment must prove their humanity to leave the experiment unscathed. The experience of those within the experiment is juxtaposed against those running it, some of whom struggle with the corporation’s intentions for the AI that pass the Turing Test. All of this leaves readers wondering what truly defines humanity and consciousness.
Performance is where Hunter’s book found its start. She produced a contemporary dance piece for the 2017 festival that served as the single source of inspiration for the novel’s plot, as she learned storytelling through dance.
“Many don’t know, but the idea behind this novel came from a dance performance I presented in 2017 at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. As a lifelong dancer, I learned to tell stories through movement and the convergence of writing and dance is what helped me to create Sentience,”said Hunter.
“You see a lot of different stories that touch on some of the concepts that Sentience does. Although the headlines are much less dramatic, it’s a little scary and for me, fascinating, that the things that come up within the pages of the novel aren’t all that far off from what we are witnessing in the current times,”Hunter stated.
While science and speculative fiction is seen as a generally male-dominated genre, Hunter is proud to be able to become a published author in this field, especially as a young female Science Fiction author.