Announcing Oana Aristide’s Under the Blue

29 January 2021

A literary thriller about a pandemic, the rise of AI, and how – or why – we might save the human race.

A road trip beneath clear blue skies and a blazing sun: a reclusive artist is forced to abandon his home and follow two young sisters across a post-pandemic Europe in search of a safe place. Is this the end of the world?

Meanwhile two computer scientists have been educating their baby in a remote location. Their baby is called Talos, and he is an advanced AI program. Every week they feed him data, starting from the beginning of written history, era by era, and ask him to predict what will happen next to the human race. At the same time, they’re involved in a increasingly fraught philosophical debate about why human life is sacred and why the purpose for which he was built – to predict threats to human life to help us avoid them – is a worthwhile and ethical pursuit.

These two strands come together in a way that is always suspenseful, surprising and intellectually provocative: this is an extraordinarily prescient and vital work of fiction – an apocalyptic road novel to frighten and thrill.

Serpent’s Tail will publish Under the Blue as a £14.99 hardback in March 2021.

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Advance Praise for Under the Blue

‘A book of insight and foresight, lit with wit and gorgeous with intelligence’, Jay Griffiths, author of Wild: An Elemental Journey and Why Rebel

‘A super-smart and relentlessly gripping addition to the ecofiction genre, Under the Blue is by turns chilling, incisive, and casually hilarious. It also features one of the most convincing sentient-AI characters in recent fiction, ’Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens 

Under the Blue is a novel with a terrible beauty. Oana Aristide gives us so much to think about: environmental destruction, the melting of the polar ice, eco-terrorism, but all within a heart-stopping story of three survivors travelling through Europe alone. I couldn’t look away,’ Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange

‘Extraordinary … it is ostensibly a compelling, addictive post-apocalyptic thriller, but also a ferociously intelligent examination of artificial intelligence, a highly accomplished treatise on the function of art, and a lyrical, moving, vitally urgent plea for expanded ecological awareness. It is a book with the force of prophecy,’ Niall Griffiths, author of Broken Ghost

‘Terrifying but hopeful, smart, vital and urgent: the ultimate must-read, ’Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

‘Highly readable and chilling. Threads together a pandemic storyline with the implications of AI in a way that is very intriguing and especially relevant today,’ Mark Lynas, author of Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency

Under the Blue fuses the ‘keep moving’ urgency that drives apocalyptic road novels with a restrained love story and a science fiction that is at once unnerving, tender and credible’ Cynan Jones, author of The Dig

‘Chillingly evocative and relentlessly unsettling,’ Christopher Brookmyre, author of Fallen Angel

About Oana Aristide

Oana was born in Transylvania, to parents of Romanian, Greek and Yemeni background. After the fall of communism the family emigrated to Sweden. Oana has worked in the City of London as a macroeconomist, and as an advisor to the Romanian prime minister, but since 2018 she has lived on a Greek island, converting a heritage villa into a hotel.

Follow Oana on Twitter