The Companions (Hardcover)
Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go in this debut novel set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.
In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.
Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.
Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.
About the Author
Katie M. Flynn is a writer, editor, and educator based in San Francisco. Her short fiction has appeared in Colorado Review, Indiana Review, The Masters Review, and Tin House, among other publications. She has been awarded Colorado Review’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, a fellowship from the San Francisco Writers Grotto, and the Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing. Katie holds an MFA from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Geography from UCLA. The Companions is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @Other_Katie or visit her website BurytheBird.com.
“Beautifully atmospheric and emotionally intense, The Companions is an unnerving and engrossing story. The radiant, somber voice of this near-future speculative novel ratchets the suspense while also illuminating what makes us human and how we endure beyond death. This is a spellbinding novel that will linger with you.” —Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood
"With deft narration and unforgettable characters, Katie M. Flynn weaves a tale of high-tech, dystopian reincarnation. Each detail is beautifully sketched and thrilling to discover, creating a near-future world of endless fascination. The Companions is a compelling, gripping, whip-smart piece of speculative fiction." —Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters
“This sweeping novel of near-future dystopia has an ensemble cast and covers continents and years of time, but it never loses its intimacy and immediacy. There’s a deeply moving humanity to each of these characters—even the ones who aren’t quite human. I loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end.” –Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will
“If you wished the Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back’ had explored the greater ramifications of uploading the dead into artificial bodies, Katie M. Flynn has you covered. She has explored every facet of the idea from every perspective, and the result is gripping.” –Ariel S. Winter, author of The Twenty-Year Death and Barren Cove
“The Companions is one of those rare novels that leave you feeling euphoric and hollow, filled with questions about the loss and loneliness that shape life after a loved one is gone…and comes back. A stunning debut novel. We can’t wait to read Katie M. Flynn’s next book.” –Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, New York Times bestselling authors of People of the Canyons
"A suspenseful, introspective debut." –Kirkus Reviews
"Flynn’s vibrant characters movingly answer the oft-asked question, 'What does it mean to be human?' This will satisfy fans of literary and science fiction alike." –Publishers Weekly