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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

The Only Living Girl on Earth

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The Only Living Girl on Earth

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Author: Charles Yu
Publisher: Self-Published, 2021

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Book Type: Novella
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Jane is the only person left on the planet, minding the only business left: a gift shop. She wasn't born on Earth, but her ancestors were; they lived there before the AI in charge of geoengineering failed and the oceans got too hot to sustain the terrestrial food web and before humans took off to colonize other planets.

She's heading to college on Jupiter in the fall of 3020, so her days on the home planet--selling "American Epoch" postcards, "History: The Poster!" and "War: The Soundtrack" to tourists from the suburbs of Europa--are numbered. But as the looping promotional ad for Earth details, in the planet's more recent past there was an amusement park, a museum, and even a model American town to draw visitors: all shuttered now, abandoned. When a man and his son crash-land their rocket and need assistance, as well as some diversion, Jane learns that the other attractions on Earth are not so defunct after all and may have taken on a life of their own.

Told, fittingly, in interconnected fragments, The Only Living Girl on Earth captures a place where only fragments of its landscape remain. At once dead serious and playful, recognizable and as otherworldly and unsettling as Yu's other sci-fi reinventions, it is a cautionary tale about all that we could lose--are losing--by failing to live sustainably and about what we hope to leave behind for future generations. It is also a love letter to what it means to be human, how connected we are to a place and one another, and how we must fight to preserve these gifts. In this, Yu expresses his unique brand of cosmic humanism, that even in the face of dire circumstances, when we feel the most estranged from who and what we are, there is still hope.


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