Proper Zero

Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

David Anthony Durham


In an alternative future Earth, a warring augmented humanity finds itself forced to take sides in a larger conflict between celestial beings, creators of the world. This novel follows the journey of Ahri Doloran-Spero as she traces back her complex lineage through the memories of her dead mother, Lorandael Doloran. Through her mother’s memories of her own childhood as a child soldier and three other child soldiers — Titus, Shura, and Khaene — Ahri witnesses the war between humans paired with powerful celestial beings, factions of augmented humans, and perfected, sentient artificial intelligences unfold across three generations. Chronicled as a series of disclosed data files of Ahri’s recorded memories, Proper Zero is a fictionalized A Long Way Gone or On Killing, exhibiting the harsh realities that accompany children participating in genocidal warfare, while also exploring the innate human bias against killing. As Ahri struggles to discover and understand her family’s war-torn past, Lorandael attempts to teach Ahri about humanity’s present and potential future — lessons and memories Ahri will pass on to her daughter, and so on and so forth, for generations to come.