Monday, April 22, 2019

"Emily Eternal"

Born in Texas, M.G. Wheaton worked in a computer factory before getting his start as a writer for such movie magazines as Total Film, Fangoria, Shivers, SFX and several others. After leaving journalism, Wheaton worked as a writer for video games, comic books, and movies, including writing scripts for New Line, Sony, Universal, Miramax, HBO, A&E, Syfy, Legende, Disney Channel, and others while working with filmmakers such as Sam Raimi, Michael Bay, Steven Soderbergh, George Tillman, Gavin O'Connor, Janusz Kaminski, and Clark Johnson.

Wheaton applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Emily Eternal, and reported the following:
From page 69:
The stairway is narrow. Several people use it at once, ascending on the right, descending to the left, which makes for a tricky pas de deux. I persevere, slowly making my way up the hundred or so steps. My heart is pounding by the midpoint and I am short of breath by the summit. But when I reach the small white lighthouse that sits atop it, the woman’s body relaxes, happy in her accomplishment and thrilled by what comes next.

The lighthouse is barely two stories tall, the catwalk around it not wide enough to accommodate more than a dozen people at a time. Even so, over forty pilgrims are packed around it, all gazing out to the sea beyond. There’s a plaque nearby and I try to read it, but my eyes remain fixed on the horizon line. Though I can’t turn my head, I’m able to determine where I am by eavesdropping on the others around me.

The vista is of the Cape of Good Hope also known as the Cape of Storms thanks to the number of ships decimated within it before and after Vasco da Gama navigated through it for the first time on his way to India. It is a spot revered by some, as it is a place where two oceans meet—the Indian and the South Atlantic—and may have been described by God as a place to which Abraham was meant to pilgrimage.

My host is overwhelmed. She raises her hand and wipes tears from our eyes. I feel awash in her emotion—awe, fear, adoration. It’s cold here. As others move aside, she moves to the edge to get a better look at the gray, cloudy sky over the water. Someone remarks Antarctica is only a couple thousand miles in that direction. I wonder if they think they can see that fa—

Everything changes in a blink. I’m in motion. Running fast—real fast. I’m no longer in South Africa. I’m in a large city. I’m on the sidewalk. It’s early morning. I catch sight of a few bits of signage as I pass. They’re in English and there are phone numbers with American area codes. Boston’s area code. Ah. I’m back home. I happen to see a street sign—Congress. I see another—Hanover. On one side of me is an ancient brick building calling itself the Union Oyster House, on the other, city hall.
So, the main character of Emily Eternal is an artificial consciousness named Emily being developed as a highly empathetic psychologist to help humans process trauma. Utilizing an experimental interface chip, she’s able to access and manipulate a patient’s senses to not only appear as a physical person but also to access their memories. When the Sun begins to die, however, the government ropes her in to a program to create a sort of “digital ark,” using her abilities to record the memories and experiences of the world’s population to leave behind after mankind goes extinct for any future civilization or alien race that happens along. In Emily’s page 69 scene, Emily has just begun her recording and is experiencing a memory of a woman ascending the steps of the Cape Point Lighthouse in South Africa overlooking the Cape of Good Hope.

It’s fairly indicative of the book, I think, as Emily is a close observer of human emotional response, something she dearly wishes to experience herself.
Visit Mark Wheaton's website.

Writers Read: M. G. Wheaton.

--Marshal Zeringue