A most disturbing event has happened at the beginning of Our Lady of the Artilects: a synth–an AI-driven humanoid robot–claims to be possessed by a demon. Not only does this rouse the interest of the pope, it also brings other religious figures–and secular authorities–running to find out what’s happening. As the tension ratchets up and multiple people and factions try to figure out what’s happening, the religious implications of the event become even more important.
Andrew Gillsmith has woven a fascinating story in this novel, which combines religious and philosophical themes with questions in science fiction to make a coherent narrative. What’ remarkable is that the farther into the plot you get, the more ties you see to some questions in “real life” and the present. The plot is inspired by questions about the Uyghur people and supposed secret prophecies of Fatima.
Despite these heavy themes, Gillsmith moves the plot along quiet well. It becomes compulsive reading as you get farther in. The story intertwines secular and religious authorities with a more traditional thriller-like core that works well as a whole. Gillsmith brings the story to a satisfying conclusion, and apparently there is a sequel on the way as well.
Our Lady of the Artilects is one of those indie gems that you always hope you’re going to come across as you read indie science fiction. I recommend it highly.
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