What would you give to live forever? 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 a philosophical HopePunk sci-fi series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.
Susan Kaye Quinn's The Legacy is full of philosophical hope as it looks at a world that distinguishes between the ascenders, who have been enhanced by science, and those who are legacies, whose existence is that they are untouched by that same tech. This is the first of a four voume series; the next volume is The Duality Bridge. – Cat Rambo
"Fascinating blend of science and art!"– Amazon Reviewer
"I found myself immersed in the story and wanting more when I finished it."– Amazon Reviewer
"I devoured this story, captured by every word and whisked away to that other world. I painted with Eli, I danced with Kamali, and Delphina's magnificent final story-telling performance left me breathless. This story will remain in your thoughts long after you've read it, prompting you to ponder the question ... what exactly does it mean to be human?"– Amazon Reviewer
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.
Once again, I taste the bitter nearness and yet absolute unreachability… of her. Of ascending. Of everything that means anything at all.
Lenora leans back, her hair no longer touching me: it breaks the spell. "It's lovely, Elijah." She always uses my full name, just like my mother. Which is disturbing enough, but it also reminds me that Lenora was born long before any human now alive. "I like it. But you can do better."
I fight hard to keep my disappointment from showing. Which is ridiculous because I need her to hate the painting—or at least dislike it enough that she'll let me keep it. I won't tell her I'm selling it, but black market medicines aren't cheap, and those are the only kind my mother can get now. Yet I can't help wanting Lenora to love my work anyway.
I search the delicate palette of her skin for some hint of what she truly feels. Her cheeks are currently the color of a white rose blushing pink, and tiny flashes of silver dart just below the surface, making them glisten. That means something, but learning to read Lenora's emotional state is the kind of color study I could spend an eternity trying to master. I think the rose means she's relaxed yet excited, but the silver flashes… I just don't know.
"I was only messing around with some color," I lie, swinging my gaze to the carefully blended shades of green in front of us. I went through a dozen canvases before I could capture the spectrum of the rainforest in just the right balance—good enough to be worth something on ArtNet, but not so good that she would want to keep it. But she's right, of course. I can do better. A lot better. Fantastically, inspiringly better… only I can't control when that creative madness strikes. It's more like possession. I don't remember it afterward, I just find the result smeared in front of me. Madness rendered in paint.
Most people would call that kind of black-out a mental problem, not a gift. But to Lenora, it's the entire reason she became my patron two years ago.
"I'll do better next time," I say, knowing I can't guarantee any such thing.
She steps back to examine my work from a distance. Her costume is more ridiculous than normal: full body armor, balloon pants, and a gleaming silver helmet on top of her curly red wig. My patron likes to dress up, but I truly wish she wouldn't. Ascenders playing human isn't exactly a compliment. And everything about it is exaggerated, like she thinks it's hilarious. An outrageous purple feather dances on top of her helmet, jerking and twitching in the breeze, as if it agrees with me. The feather is a wild thing held captive, an adornment to be tossed aside when she's ready for the next one.
I squirm on my stool. That thought's dangerously close to home, given I need my patron—her support, her approval, her understanding of my art—far more than she needs me.
I don't say any of this, just give her outfit a bemused look. "Sixteenth century conquistador?" I guess. "Planning to make some conquests today?"
A hint of a smile tugs at her lips, but she's still examining my work. "No, I simply enjoy the feather."
More squirming. "It clashes with the hair. Red and purple. The colors of passion and divinity."
"Or blood and royalty." She's toying with me.
Then, lightning quick, she strikes a pose, as if she has an invisible sword held before her. She lunges toward me. I throw up my hands in mock terror then fling them wide, allowing her to pierce my heart with her imaginary blade.