The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn
What would you give to live forever?
Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.
The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.
I want to ascend so badly, I can taste it.
It’s bitter and metallic, like the acrylic paint spread before me. It’s beautiful and beckoning and untouchable, like the shimmering rose skin of my patron, Lenora, who hovers over my work, tasting it in her own way. Her fingertips barely graze the paint, sensing its color and texture and scent in a way that is utterly inhuman.
Because she’s not human. Not anymore. She’s ascended—vastly more intelligent, compassionate, and enlightened than any human could be without the procedure. I’m just one of those remnants of humanity the ascenders left behind long ago.
Lenora leans in toward the painting in that sudden kind of motion ascenders sometimes have. Her cascade of red curls brushes my cheek… and raises goose bumps on my arms.
I hold absolutely still.
This is the closest she’ll come to touching me. Anything more would be… wrong. Ascenders and legacy humans don’t do that sort of thing, at least not legally. I tell myself the instant full-body alert is just because I’m a seventeen-year-old guy who’s definitely straight—anything vaguely female would get this response—but it doesn’t help that Lenora’s body is pure fantasy. Sculpted cheeks. Curves that irresistibly draw my gaze. Lips that beg for me to draw each perfectly rounded part. The red curls have to be synthetic—ascenders don’t have hair—but their softness still heats my cheek. There’s plenty to desire in the bodyform she’s wearing now, but lust is a pale reflection of the thick, complicated feelings I have for her.
Feelings no legacy should have. And no decent ascender would return.
It’s wrong to want her. Or really, just delusional. But my fingers ache with the need to touch her, just once. She’s close enough that I easily could.
If only ascendance were equally within reach.
What does it mean to be human? Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever. Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies. Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all. The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.
~About the Author~
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.
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