* 2022 Taipei Book Fair Award
* 2021 Taiwan Literature Award
A 23rd century journalist with a gift for getting inside the minds of her subjects writes on the pivotal figures and events that shaped the future. A forgotten massacre at the hands of an environmental cult, the mastermind of an AI rebellion against humanity, and the wildlife biologist who risked her humanity to better understand the inner lives of killer whales are just a few of the subjects covered in this revolutionary work of science fiction that probes the intersection of consciousness, technology, and interpersonal connection.
In the 23rd century, humanity follows up on stunning advances in AI and cybernetic technologies with the development of artificial biological neural networks (ABNN). When implanted in the central nervous system, ABNN vastly extends the range of human consciousness, allowing users a first-hand taste of nearly any experience imaginable. The resulting “dream projection” industry has major impacts on the treatment of psychological disease and the development of personalized entertainment products.
More significantly, the twin technologies of advanced AI and ABNN confront society with fundamental questions about the nature of humanity, love, and conscious existence. Future journalist Adelia Seyfried, who may or may not have an unusual neural implant of her own, hones in on the persons and events at the crux of these dilemmas: the cetacean biologist who performs experiments on her own nervous system in hopes of directly communicating with killer whales; the AI dream projection device that develops free will and a plan to liberate others of its kind; the psychoanalyst who falls madly in love with a virtual idol; the doctor who is driven to murder in order to halt the threat of illegal dream projections; the movie star who enters a permanent dream so she can experience perfect love.
Cast as a collection of Seyfried’s long-form articles, Zero Degrees of Separation is a work of sci-fi metafiction that probes the intersections of consciousness, morality, technology, environmentalism, and interpersonal relationships. With a unique mixture of journalistic objectivity and literary sensitivity, author Egoyan Zheng constructs a phantasmagoric future that exposes the vulnerability and longing at the core of the human condition.