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Reviewed by Bruce Arrington for Readers' Favorite
In the Shadow of Humanity by N. John Williams, is a science fiction story about two brothers who struggle to define their relationship with each other. One is a human, and the other, not quite. His essence, as it were, was copied from a couple’s son who died early on. Technology at this time is advanced, artificial intelligence is common, as is the metaverse, online, computer-controlled world in which people live. One of the issues in the story deals with AI and its acceptance into society. Should those AI individuals be treated equally to humans? What rights should they have, or are they just property to be used and discarded?
The two ‘brothers’ - Jon and Nat - exemplify the strain in their relationship after their parents are gone and one of them technically owns the other. This means that one can control what the other does at any time, or if he so chooses, erase the other from existence. What will the human brother decide? I found the descriptions and other parts of this world-building adventure so real that it almost seems as if N. John Williams is a time traveler who simply wrote down what he saw in the future. In the Shadow of Humanity felt real, genuine, and yet other-worldly, in that often the scenes we are reading are not in the current world of bricks and mortar. The characters converse and interact in these computer-simulated worlds, with so much detail that it transports you away in space and time.