The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Shadow is a reluctant god with a broken mind and a death wish. He used to be Thomas Astley-Byron, an affluent young screenwriter whose creativity and idealism saved a world from the brink of collapse. Together with Henry Nowak, an AI expert, Tom created heaven on earth by inventing a Jungian simulated reality that helps humans confront their dark sides. The benevolent manipulation platform turned the two unelected leaders into beloved gods, but now everything is failing. The worlds suffer as a sentimental Tom descends into his own personal hell, becoming the embodiment of everything he despises and a shadow of his former self.
His journey from an optimistic, joyful Tom to a gloomy Shadow is paved with heartache and sinister interference from emerging technology. Humans and bots fight for his heart, but their aims differ: some want to own it, some to dissect it, and others to end its foolish beat. Estranged from the love of his life—the activist poet Nathan Storm—Tom fails to realize the biggest threat comes from within. None of the sticky stories that steer his life end well.
Now, a young goddess—Estelle Ngoie—has been appointed to replace him, and unlike Shadow, Stella takes no prisoners, and her heart bleeds for no one.
Who’s pulling on Shadow’s heartstrings? Are their intentions malign or benign? It’s all a matter of perspective, and Shadow has none left.
Parity is the second book on the sci-fi series Spiral Worlds, written by Alexandra Almeida, which explores questions about reality and conscience, and continues developing the world(s) we got to know during Unanimity. And while truly the first book felt as an introduction to Spiral Worlds, it's certain that it allows Parity to have a better pacing and to throw us directly into the complexity of the story.
Almeida continues weaving a complex story mixing two timelines, showing the origins and the developments that happened over the original Spiral Worlds envisioned by Storm and Shadow, and how its growing influence over the real world is forcing them to take decisions that were against the vision they had; how its nature changed.
In the present day, Stella is struggling to take control of many of the aspects that made this new reality so attracting for many.
While the first book was slower and partly was mostly used to introduce us to the characters and their backstories, in this one we have a much bigger emotional weight, making use of all the previous foundations to continue developing them, exploring their struggles with their creations and their own suffering, while adding a layer of queer romance that complements well the story.
In the background, Almeida continues asking questions about conscience and the possibilities that virtual created realities might bring, while also portraying the challenges derived from those kinds of creations. The worldbuilding, while less explored in this book, is still quite a drawing point, remembering at some points to Westworld, and even including an excellent scene set in Africa.
Parity is a step-up in the series, but which wouldn't have been possible without Unanimity; if you like near futuristic sci-fi mixed with a diverse cast of characters, Spiral Worlds can be an excellent choice.
Alexandra Almeida has over 25 years of experience in technology, strategy, and innovation. In her role as Chief Transformation Officer, she acts as a senior advisor to enterprise executives. Alexandra is an experienced speaker at events such as SXSW, and the Women in Tech Series.
For the time being, and to protect her creative freedoms, Alexandra prefers to write using a number of pen names.
Her debut fantasy novel, released under another pen name, has received the following awards and recognition:
- Reader’s Favorite Awards - Gold Medal Winner - Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
- Reader Views Awards - 1st Place - Fantasy
- CIPA EVVY Book Awards - 2nd Place - Fiction - Mythology
- B.R.A.G. Medallion Recipient
- Eric Hoffer’s Da Vinci Eye Awards Finalist for Best Cover Artwork
- The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist - Books for Adults
- Awesome Indies Approved
Following the self-publishing path by choice to retain full control of her IP, Alexandra invests in the best editors available in the business to match publishing quality standards.