Victoria Hetherington is a Toronto-based freelance copywriter and communications specialist. Called a “stunning debut” (Globe and Mail), “a stylish puzzle of a story; feral and absorbing” (Toronto Star), and “this generation’s persuasive answer to Atwood” (Vancouver Sun), Victoria’s debut novel Mooncalves was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in Hazlitt, Joyland, The Puritan, EVENT, and Taddle Creek. Victoria serves as Fiction Editor for Broken Pencil Magazine and is a member of the Writers Union of Canada.
Her latest novel, Autonomy, was published by Dundurn Press in February 2022.
Visit Victoria’s website.
From the publisher:
It’s 2035: a fledging synthetic consciousness “wakes up” in a lab. Jenny, the lead developer, determined to nurture this synthetic being like a child, trains it to work with people at the border of the American Protectorate of Canada. She names it Julian.
Two years later, Slaton, a therapist at a university, is framed by a student for arranging an illegal abortion. She follows the student to America and is detained at the border, where she meets Julian in virtual space. After a week of interviewing, he decides to stay with her, learning about the world, the human condition, and what it means to fall in love. Meanwhile, a mysterious plague is spreading across the world. Only the far-seeing and well-connected Julian can protect Slaton from the impending societal collapse.
Autonomy is an ambitious philosophical novel about the possibilities for love in a world in which human bodies are either threatened or irrelevant.
“Autonomy is a beautifully written and profoundly enthralling novel that made me wonder if Joan Didion had started writing literary fiction. Set in a near future where Canada is a protectorate of the United States and highly advanced AI has begun to express its desire for embodiment, Victoria Hetherington’s second novel is an interspecies love story as well as an apocalyptic cautionary tale. Mind-bending and affecting, it deserves a wide readership.”Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square
“Set in the near future, Hetherington explores the relationship between a woman and her AI companion against the backdrop of a Canada on the brink of collapse. Hetherington leads us through a gripping account of what it means to exist — for the living and for the AI who desires life. Haunting and compelling in both vision and imagination, Autonomy is filled with powerful insights into our human need for survival, companionship, and constant questioning of mortality.”Ann YK Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety and Once Upon An Hour
“Autonomy is a novel about being human in a world that does not understand your value.”