In this “spectacularly smart space opera” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) set in the same universe as the critically acclaimed White Space series and perfect for fans of Karen Traviss and Ada Hoffman, a space station begins to unravel when a routine search and rescue mission returns after going dangerously awry.
Meet Doctor Jens.
She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.
But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, once ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.
Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.
Written in Elizabeth Bear’s signature “rollicking, suspenseful, and sentimental” (Publishers Weekly) style, Machine is a fresh and electrifying space opera that you won’t be able to put down.
Hugo Award winner Bear's spectacularly smart space opera, set in the same universe as 2018's Ancestral Night, begins with the dispatch of an ambulance ship from the immense medical habitat Core General to respond to a distress signal. The signal originates from a vessel docked aboard a lost generation ship that was launched from Earth centuries earlier, before humans overcame their self-destructive impulses and joined a multi-race, interstellar civilization called the Synarche. When rescue specialist Dr. Brookllyn Jens arrives on the scene, she finds the crew of the generation ship sealed in cryogenic containers, with only Helen, an anxious and rather threatening android, conscious. Meanwhile, the crew of the docked ship that sent out the distress signal in the first place are all comatose and the huge machine they have on board looks suspiciously like a combat walker. In addition to untangling the history of these ships, Jens is deputized to investigate increasingly destructive incidents of sabotage at Core General, leading her to question her faith in the hospital's ideals. Bear's vivid tale, narrated by the wry, almost painfully self-aware Jens, bristles with inventive science and riveting action scenes. With this outstanding work, Bear proves her mastery of the space opera genre yet again.
I’d did not expect to like the novel. What surprised, no - shocked me, was that I was looking forward to reading more of it. I don’t remember feeling that way with another of Elizabeth Bear’s novels. It was really quite good and I want to visit these characters again. Here’s hoping she does another book and makes this an on going series of it’s own.
I want back the hours I wasted reading this book...
This book is primarily a socio-political commentary. The author has compiled all of the popular pseudo-issues of our day (police and justice system brutality, systemic racism, oppression of LGBT, etc.) and transposed them to be the defining issues of all sentient beings in the universe (human or alien).
The author’s solution? What she calls “Right Minding” — the manipulation and regulation of every person’s emotional and mental state by implanted devices. The purpose of the device is to overcome every person’s negative “atavistic” tendencies.
The message being that all humans are incapable of being decent, compassionate, and caring individuals (and therefore positive members of society) without constant monitoring and adjustment by an Orwellian device. And Elizabeth Bear promotes this as a *good* idea!
Setting the retrogressive social-engineering ideas aside, I determined to enjoy the book for the story’s sake. Unfortunately, the writing leaves a lot to be desired (though it is not quite as bad as the social agenda).
The characters are wooden. The technology is often misunderstood or ignored. Worse, Bear lacks the ability to create a universe in which events unfold and feel natural instead of forced and contrived.
I recommend passing on this book in particular and this author in general.