In late twenty-first century Australia, Tao-Yi and her partner Navin spend most of their time inside a hyper-immersive, hyper-consumerist virtual reality called Gaia. They log on, go to work, socialise, and even eat in this digital utopia. Meanwhile their aging bodies lie suspended in pods inside cramped apartments. Across the city, in the abandoned ‘real’ world, Tao-Yi’s mother remains stubbornly offline, dwindling away between hospital visits and memories of her earlier life in Malaysia.
When a new technology is developed to permanently upload a human brain to Gaia, Tao-Yi must decide what is most important: a digital future, or an authentic past.
A story about virtual reality, identity, love, migration, change, and what it means to be human. Never Let Me Go meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Murakami surrealism thrown in, this is speculative literary fiction at its best.
Praise for Every Version of You
“Confronting what might one day be left on a ruined, ‘offline’ Earth is a powerful way to refocus the lens on the world we are presently creating, and the politics informing what we build – whether it’s from bricks or code.”
The Guardian’s Best Australian Books Out in August
“Every Version of You is a strong debut, and it shines brightest in the moments where Chan allows her empathy and her philosophical leanings to take the reins. I was caught off-guard by how deftly, and how believably, the novel came together to form an apocalypse which was equally a utopia.”
“This is a deep and thoughtful book that explores questions and situations that will only grow more real over the next few decades, set in a world that is even further gone than the one we know now.”
“Chan is rigorous in her refusal to take the obvious route. Every Version of You is science fiction in its premise, but literary in its attention to the facets of a life that spawn Tao-Yi’s inner-conflict—the physicality of the solace she draws from Navin, her outsider-status as a Chinese Malaysian immigrant, and the complexity of her relationship with a mother who suffers from depression.”
“The haunting images in Every Version of You followed me long after I turned the final page – from the bodies steeping in neuroconductive gel, to the not-quite-right perfection of Gaia, to the crumbling physical world that refuses to be made obsolete. Grace Chan is a vivid, insightful storyteller.”
—Elizabeth Tan, Author of Smart Ovens for Lonely People (Brio, 2020)
“Set in a shocking and inevitable near future, Chan’s debut novel is a cultural epiphany: a desperate end-of-the-world search for connections that will transcend generations, imperfections—even death. Exquisitely written and startlingly real, Every Version of You establishes Chan as speculative fiction’s newest virtuoso.”
—Lee Murray, USA Today Bestselling author, and four-time Bram Stoker Award® winner.
“Visceral, mind-bending and tender. Every Version of You asks what it is to be human. Just beautiful.”
—Inga Simpson, Author of The Last Woman in the World (Hachette, 2021)
“Every Version of You is an intimate character study and an expansive vision of a possible future. Tao-Yi’s story is one of authenticity and resistance in the face of the unquestioned adoption of advanced, life-altering technology. Chan explores the appeal of illusion when what is in front of us has been diminished, and raises complex ethical questions around the integration of physical and virtual selves and tech’s monopolisation of everyday life. A moving, transportive, thoughtful and entertaining read!”
—Angela Meyer, Author of A Superior Spectre (Ventura Press, 2018) and Moon Sugar (Transit Lounge, 2022)
“Every Version of You is a thought-provoking reflection on love, duty, memory, reality, and self. Above all, it tenderly explores when to let go and when to hold on. Terrifyingly good.”
—Shu-Ling Chua, essayist, critic and poet, and author of ECHOES (Somekind Press, 2021)
“In Every Version of You, Tao-Yi’s life revolves around care—caretaking for her mother who struggles with depression, her partner with a long-term physical disability, and her clients who seek authenticity.
‘Is this evolution or extinction?’ Tao-Yi asks as humans migrate from a world post-ecological collapse into Gaia, a glamorous, fast-paced metaverse with no (bodily) limitations. Every Version of You explores what makes us human— collectively and ‘authentically’— and what it takes to survive a brutally inequitable system. Tao-Yi’s self-awareness and quiet resistance make her a revolutionary, unforgettable protagonist.”
—Natasha Hertanto, Chinese-Indonesian storyteller
“Every Version of You gives readers a disconcerting glimpse into the future. The strange new world of the novel is brought to life by Chan’s clean, vivid prose and rich characterisation, and as the story gathers momentum, it touches on themes such as belonging, friendship, love, climate change, virtual reality, ageing and death. Every Version of You is intriguing, moving and engrossing—a truly rewarding read.”
—Dr Fiona Robertson, Author of If You’re Happy (UQP, 2022)
“Melbourne Year 2088: the Yarra River has run dry. 31 year old Tao-Yi and her friends are caught between two worlds: the actual world with catastrophic homelessness and levels of radiation and pollution that necessitate goggles and air filters when venturing outside, and the ever-growing “digital utopia” Gaia in which people are spending increasing time. When Tao-Yi’s boyfriend Navin, who struggles with chronic health issues, decides to permanently upload into Gaia she is torn between a digital paradise where physicality is not required and the Old World that contains her histories, despondent mother and environmental possibilities she is not willing to let go of. In this compelling, exquisitely drawn world Chan dares us to ponder what roles robotics might play in the future of making art, providing medical care, in our most intimate relationships; if given the chance what of our current realities would we fight to keep? And what could be easily left behind? Every Version of You announces Chan as a bold and distinctive talent in literary speculative fiction. Welcome To Your Future.”
—Dr Sarah Sasson, Author and Editor of Signs of Life (Moshpit Publishing, 2021)
“A Black Mirror-esque exploration of the evolutionary and societal repercussions of technology from a diasporic perspective, it still holds onto joy and hope amidst the grim reality. It will make you see VR in a new light, contemplate sloughing off your meat-skin, and leave you grappling with what’s at the core of being ‘human’. In other words, this was bloody awesome and I’m terrified of what society will do with VR now!”
—Leanne Yong, Author of Two Can Play That Game (Allen & Unwin, 2023)
“What makes us who we are? What does it mean to love? To die? To evolve? There are no easy answers to these existential anxieties in the narrative, only an unfolding sensation of complex and tender emotions being pulled out of you. Chan’s skill is in bringing layered characters to life and allowing their stories to unfold. One minute you find yourself longing to feel the weight of reality; the next, you’re yearning for cyber immortality.
Chan’s lyrical writing is like sinking into one of the Neupods ubiquitous to the story world. Everyday realities vanish as you’re drawn into a cyberpunk tale as beautifully crafted, immersive, alluring, and strange as the idyllic virtual space of Gaia. Every Version of You is cerebral in both the reading experience and universe; but it will also pluck your hidden heartstrings, leaving you unsettled, captivated, and aching for more.”
—Geneve Flynn, Bram Stoker- and Shirley Jackson Award-winning author, editor, and poet.