The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen: from my #shadowclarke shortlist 

It’s time for my second Shadow Clarke review. On this occasion, I’m looking at the debut novel by Emma Geen, The Many Selves of Katherine North.

The book is set in a near future where the technology has been developed to project a human’s consciousness into artificial animal bodies. Katherine North is a ‘phenomenaut’, paid to experience animal consciousnesses in order to assist research on empathy – but the company that she works for is not all it seems. 

I had mixed feelings about Geen’s novel – at its best, it works very well indeed; but there isn’t room for everything it tries to do. The book adopts a thriller plot, but doesn’t then successfully integrate its more philosophical aspects into that structure. This is something I wanted to explore in the review, as it’s not the first time I’ve seen it in contemporary science fiction. 

My review of Many Selves is here on the CSFF website.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve not been terribly tempted by this one.

    How does she experience the animal’s consciousness? I get how she experiences the sense of being in its body, but how it’s sense of self?

    To be honest I thought this sounded rather YA. Is it?

    • Hi Max. I hadn’t thought about the distinction between the animal’s consciousness and its sense of self – thanks for pointing that out. She doesn’t experience its sense of self; she’s always Kit underneath. I think this may be what I felt was lacking in the animal sequences, but couldn’t pin down at the time.

      It did remind me of bad YA in places, yes. The ideas are reasonably nuanced, but the fictional framework is too blunt.

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