JQM LITERARY SPOTLIGHT PRESENTS Sentience by Courtney P. Hunter
FIRST, LET’S GET TO KNOW YOU A BIT. TELL US SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOURSELF:
I’m Courtney, and I’m a serial creator from Philadelphia, PA. Telling stories is the thread that connects the various roles in my life together, and I believe that my experiences give me a fresh perspective in my approach to writing. I currently work in retail buying for Burlington Stores, where I curate cohesive stories of merchandise for the Crafting and Stationery Category. I also maintain a production company called The Stolen Fire Collective that produces original and thought-provoking content in the form of podcasts, opinion pieces, and live events. I’m working on a brand new stand alone novel that’s a departure from science fiction. I’m the most literal definition of the word Capricorn. I’m marrying my high school sweetheart next fall. AND most importantly, I’m a dog mama to three rescue pups Rickie, Billie, and Reggie.
WHAT IS THE GENRE AND AUDIENCE FOR THIS BOOK:
Sentience is an adventure science fiction novel with a little romance woven in. It was written for readers between 18-30!
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK:
I pulled inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, but ultimately, I wanted to tell a story about humans taking things too far. I’m drawn to anything that tells a similar story. Jurassic Park is my all-time favorite movie, and all I wanted to do with Sentience was to make others feel the way that story made me feel. However, there were many specific places and pieces of media that I pulled inspiration from. I count the following among them. The CW’s The 100. Ex Machina. HBO’s Westworld. Netflix’s The OA. The East. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. Voices of Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. Ultraluminous by Katherine Faw. The NY Time’s podcast Caliphate by Rukmini Callimachi (I’m really inspired by Rukmini in general). It’s a random list, but I found nuggets of things that I wanted to emulate in my writing in each of the above. In addition to all of that, I’ve been a dancer for all of my life, and dance is where I really learned story-telling. Funny enough, my novel was an extension of a contemporary dance piece about artificial intelligence that Stolen Fire did for the 2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. The experience of taking a story from the stage to the page gave me insight into pacing, world-building, and having my characters emote through physicality. This is something that sets my writing apart. Completing that dance production and being left with the world I created on the stage made me feel like I should evolve the project into a new form, and thus, Sentience was born.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK:
Running from a violent past, Leo Knox desperately decides to participate in a scientific experiment conducted by the infamous and greedy tech-giant, AlgorithmOS. Soon, Leo learns that she has agreed to take part in a Turing Test, a test that measures the ability of artificial intelligence to blend in among humanity, but what she doesn’t know is that the test set to take place is unlike any other of its kind. Leo enters Eden, the contained preserve where the test will occur, with twenty-three others. While everyone appears to be human, four of the individuals are an indistinguishably advanced form of humanoid AI. The task is simple: identify the AI while trying to survive. The twist? The four AI are completely unaware of their nature, causing every participant to question what they know as reality. The group embarks on a journey within the preserve, rigged with obstacles devised by the controllers of the experiment to elicit human response and emotion. Quickly, madness ensues and divides form, partnering Leo up with Avery Ford, a Marine who wears his demons on his sleeve. Romance falls together for the two as the world around them falls apart, revealing the lengths people will go to protect those they love, to achieve monetary gain, or simply to survive. Back at AlgorithmOS, the story unfolds on the screens of Nathan Aimes, a scientist responsible for monitoring the experiment’s surveillance cameras. Nathan studies the humans involved as they wrestle with where they stand on the polarizing issue of AI and its applications. He watches the AI unknowingly fight to prove their humanity just to leave the experiment unscathed. All the while, Nathan is intimately aware of his company’s plans to weaponize or commodify the AI should they pass the test, and he must reconcile this with the chaos that plays out before him.
WHERE CAN WE PURCHASE YOUR BOOK: