Daniel's Reviews > Machine

Machine by Jennifer Pelland
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Mar 08, 12

Read from February 29 to March 08, 2012

I first met Jennifer Pelland two years ago. Her collection of short stories, Unwelcome Bodies, had recently come out and her brilliant and depressing stories were just what I needed to read at that time. So when I saw her first novel was coming out, I knew I had to get it.

Machine is a breathtaking achievement. One sits in awe at the imagination and psychological detail that has gone into the creation of the world of this story. It's nearly a century in the future and those with currently incurable medical conditions can have their consciousness transferred to "bioandroids." To the person involved it feels perfectly naturally (almost) but to everyone else it's a matter of some controversy. Celia, the main character of the story, awakes to find that her wife has left her.

Protesters claim that that such constructs are an abomination since the soul cannot be transferred to a machine. Others find the possibility of machine existence positively exciting. Celia falls in with a group of rogue "mechanicals" (please don't call them "bot brains") who have started "tweaking" their artificial constructs to make them increasingly different from their human originals.

Pelland fully explores the ramifications of such a technological change, from just how far a mechanical is willing to tweak him or herself from the human form. Some have left humanity behind. Others earn money as "love dolls," knowing they can turn off their capacity to be affected by the depravities of their well-paying clients. And some see themselves as the next stage of humanity.

This is a rich, imaginative book that was hard to put down (and is definitely not for kids). It deserves a wide readership and Pelland deserves a place on your "must read" list.
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