Emma Mieko Candon, "The Archive Undying" (Tordotcom, 2023)


The Archive Undying (Tordotcom, 2023) is Emma Mieko Candon’s ambitious epic science fiction novel about intertwined human survivors following the violent fall of cities run by AI entities so massive, they had the power and influence of gods.

When the robotic god of Khuon Mo went mad, it destroyed everything it touched. It killed its priests, its city, and all its wondrous works. But in its final death throes, the god brought one thing back to life: Sunai. For twenty years, Sunai has been unable to die, unable to age, and unable to forget the horrors he’s experienced. He’s run as far as he can from the wreckage of his faith, drowning himself in drink, drugs, and men. But when Sunai wakes up in the bed of the one man he never should have slept with, he finds himself on a path straight back into the world of gods and machines.

There’s a lot to unpack and it may sound all doom and gloom, but not to worry. Says Candon, “Welcome to your protagonist. I hope you have fun. He's at least funny about it.”

The Archive Undying evokes a relatable trajectory and fresh take on what artificial general intelligence could look like, the beauty it could create, and havoc it could cause.

Emma Mieko Candon is a queer author and escaped academic drawn to tales of devouring ghosts, cursed linguistics, and mediocre robots. Her work includes Star Wars Visions: Ronin, a Japanese reimagining of the Star Wars mythos, and The Archive Undying (2023), an original speculative novel about sad giant robots and fraught queer romance. As an actual cyborg whose blood has been taken for science, Emma’s grateful to be stationed at home in Hawaii, where they were born and raised as a fourth-generation Japanese settler. By day, they edit anime nonsense for Seven Seas Entertain­ment, and by night they remain academically haunted by identity, ideology, and imperialism. At all hours of the day, they are beholden to the whims of two lopsided cats and relieved by the support of an enviably hand­some wife.

Brenda Noiseux hosts New Books in Science Fiction.

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Brenda Noiseux

Brenda Noiseux is a host of New Books in Science Fiction.

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