Pink Noise: hard-sf novella about the strange battles of the posthuman

Leonid Korogodski's publishing debut Pink Noise: A Posthuman Tale is a dense, hard-sf novella that takes a serious crack at imagining the priorities, miseries and joys of posthuman people. It's a tall order: creating believably nonhuman post-people means that you necessarily give up on a certain amount of empathy and sympathy for your characters who are, by definition, doing things whose motivations we can't purely understand.

Korogodski's solution is to garland the tale with a kind of scientific poesie — a superdense rush of technical explanations for the atomic structure of the human — and posthuman — mind, written with the kind of passion that a pornographer might reserve for a detailed description of someone's reproductive organs, and the kind of lyricism that a poet might use to describe the same parts (albeit by allegory). This, for the most part, really works — Pink Noise manages to be a story that sucks you in and spits you out again some 120 pages later, having somehow convinced your mind to care about the trials and tribulations of people who can't properly die and who are mostly made from computation.

The book comes with a series of technical appendices explaining the neuroscience, astrophysics, evolutionary computing and linguistic tricks that make the book hum, and when these aren't sufficient, the author has left sidebars and footnotes in the text of the story itself. These are fascinating little essays, but I don't reckon you need to read them to get the story.

What's the story? Nathi is a transhuman brain doctor, someone who can repair neurological insult in those people who stubbournly insist on having meat bodies. He is called in to rescue a comatose girl who has suffered a grave nerve insult, and so an instance of himself is inserted into her mind, whereupon he discovers that he is not who he thought he is, and neither is she. This leads to a daring escape, an epic space-battle, and a series of bizarre and imaginative flashbacks explaining the economics and geopolitical carnage left behind by the Singularity.

Silverberry Press have packaged the novella and its technical essays in a slim and handsome hardcover, with several black-and-white illustrations from Bulgarian artist Guddah. I'm sorry to say that these illustrations left me very cold, being the kind of computer-enhanced "futuristic" illustration that my eyes generally slide past at science fiction conventions.

I taught Korogodski at the Viable Paradise sf writing workshop some years ago, and it's always good to see a student doing well. This is a promising debut from a writer who isn't afraid to be as technical as he needs to be in order to tell his story.

Pink Noise: A Posthuman Tale