The Original

Hugo Award-winning authors Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal team up in this exclusive audio-first production of The Original, a sci-fi thriller set in a world where one woman fights to know her true identity and survive the forces that threaten her very existence. 

In the near future, humans choose life – for a price. Injectable nanite technology is the lifeblood that flows through every individual wishing to experience the world through the lens of their own theme. While death from mortal wounds is still possible, life is made easier in a socially liberated society where automation and income equality allow passion pursuits to flourish over traditional work. Renewal stations are provided to every law-abiding citizen for weekly check-ins, which issue life-sustaining repairs in exchange for personal privacy. But what becomes of those who check out, of those who dare to resist immortality and risk being edited under the gaze of an identity-extracting government surveillance system? 

When Holly Winseed wakes up in a hospital room, her memory compromised and a new identity imposed on her, a team of government agents wastes no time stating their objective. With intent to infiltrate and defeat the terrorist group ICON, the agents tell Holly that she is now a Provisional Replica and has one week to hunt down and kill her Original for the murder of her husband, Jonathan. If she succeeds, she’ll assume her Original’s place in society. If she fails, her life will end. Holly’s progress is monitored by an assigned contact that feeds her information as she confronts the blank, robotic world around her, discovering that others view life through the theme of their own choosing. 

With her newly implanted combat and deduction skills, Holly fends off both attacks by terrorists and doubts about her own trustworthiness as clues lead her to her Original – and to the truth about Jonathan. In the end, one body remains and one walks away. Although questions persist, one thing is certain: Life will never be the same. 


"There are plenty of movies and print fiction that concern a clone hunting down the original and/or an assassin who hasn’t been given all the truth. But this is a really great take on that formula.... This is a wonderful collabora­tion from the two authors and narrator, a tribute to how original audio can really shine."

Locus Magazine

"The narration was excellent. And there was music and sound effects, I loved it. It was really well produced and I’ll definitely be recommending it to anyone who enjoys audiobooks."


"The Original would have been a good enough story on its own but I thought Julia [Whelan] really managed to bring the world and characters alive in a way that very few narrators manage to do. I think she would have easily made this a good book to listen to even if it hadn’t had such a good story. This really was a great story to listen to and I really hope that Brandon [Sanderson] and Mary [Robinette Kowal] decide to collaborate together on more fantastic stories."

The Arched Doorway

"Holly’s predicament is riveting and the societal and ethical dilemmas she encounters are thought-provoking.... the Original is action-packed and ends with a twist that totally surprised me."

Fantasy Literature