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(White Space #2)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  950 ratings  ·  223 reviews
In this compelling and addictive novel 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 whe
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Gallery / Saga Press (first published October 8th 2020)
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Elizabeth Bear You can completely read this one as a stand-alone, though there will be spoilers for a few outcomes in Ancestral Night!

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MACHINE by Elizabeth Bear is a space opera and the second book in the White Space series. It is also the first book that I have read by this author. While reading book one in the series might provide more background, this read well as a standalone novel. Dr. Jens is a trauma doctor and rescue specialist. She is of the crew on an ambulance ship answering a distress signal. Two ships, one centuries old, and another one that is contemporary are connected and no one is responding so Dr. Jens and Tso ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Ancestral Night
Thank you to NetGalley and Saga Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Machine takes place in the same universe as Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night, which was a three-star read for me but nonetheless left an overall positive impression. Machine follows an entirely new cast of characters and tells a very different story set in the same world as Ancestral Night. I was excited to see it on NetGalley and even more excited when my ARC request was approved.

As you might ima
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
4.0 Stars Machine
This was a solid piece of science fiction that blended together elements of a mystery into a larger space opera narrative. The story had a fantastic setup which immediately grabbed my attention from the first chapter. In terms of pace, this one was more of a slow burn, but that did not prevent me from becoming immersed in the narrative.

The worldbuilding in this novel was excellent, naturally weaving details about the future technology into the story in an organic way. There was
Heidi The Reader
Dr. Jens, a rescue specialist for a medical group composed of different species from across the galaxy, is on a mission to save the lives of thousands of humans on an ancient ship, stranded among the stars. Something has gone terribly wrong with their computer system.

In addition, there's a strange, and dangerous looking, machine in the hold of another, far more modern ship, that is attached to the archaic ship. Could it be the genesis of everything that went wrong or something more sinister?

Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Billed as a straight space opera (but not with a straight MC), this follows a lot of usual tropes. Between salvage, finding an alien artifact, and juggling a few mysteries while handling personal and interpersonal ones, this has all the hallmarks of a comfortable opera read.

Good points: the MC is a doctor and happens to be one devoted to her job no matter how complicated that makes her life. Personal pain management has a bit of a House feel, too. And then there is the Machine. I like the whole
Peter Tillman
Just finished, Easy 5 stars! One of her best, likely her best pure-quill, classic SF novel. Working to get my thoughts (and notes) in order. I loved it. OK, here goes....

I had a great time with one of my fave SF author's deep-dive into genre history. A mysterious lost generation-ship that's gone further than its sublight engines should have been able to push it. A Synarche ambulance-ship responded to TWO distress calls, one from the ancient ring-ship, the second from a contemporary methane-breat
Set in the same universe as Ancestral Night, Machine is in no sense a sequel. It doesn't even have the same characters. But it has a sense of familiarity to those who experienced Ancestral Night. This time, our characters don't get entangled with space pirates and refugees. Our main character is a doctor assigned to a medical rescue team en route to answering a distress call. And when they get there it's nothing like they could have imagined. One ship is a giant from the dawn of human memory wit ...more
Sherwood Smith
In this second space opera/mystery in her White Space series, Elizabeth Bear gives us first-person narrator Dr. Brookllyn Jens, who is part of an EMT team aboard the Synarche Medical Vessel I Race To Seek the Living. She’s a tough, lonely person(in spite of a failed marriage and a daughter (view spoiler)), who lives w ...more
Judy Lesley
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Wow, this one ticked all the boxes for me. From first page to last I was hooked.

Dr. Brookllyn Jens is a doctor working from an ambulance ship going to the rescue of those in distress in space. She and the crew of the Synarche Medical Vessel I Race To Seek the Living have located the ship sending the distress call, Big Rock Candy Mountain, a ship that left Terra about six hundred years previously, and Llyn and her team must make the jump from her ship onto Big Rock Candy Mountain to ascertain th
The Captain
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

I really enjoyed the first companion book in this series, ancestral night, and was looking forward to reading this.  This book is set in the same universe as the previous novel but follows a different character.  Dr. Jens works for an intergalactic hospital as a search and rescue specialist.  Her life turns upside down when a ship with a distress call turns out t
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
2 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I really wanted to like this one, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out for me. While I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth Bear’s work in the past, for some reason Machine failed to capture my attention, and even from the start the story and main character struggled to make an impression, though I tried my best to give the book a fair shake.

At first, I thought it might have something to do with the fact it is a sequel, and that I ha
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

Once convinced that life is but an eternal mystery enveloping our existence only for us to discover our purpose and its many miracles, some dedicate their entire life to a unique cause, allowing it to surprise them on a daily basis. There might not be any point to question the future, their destiny, or their faith, when stuck in an unending loop of complacency, one where the thrill of every day’s duty is enough to stimulate their mind and get th
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Machine is a very good medical science fiction space adventure with a very diverse cast of well conceived alien races, elements of mystery, some good humor, and intelligent examinations of what it takes to get along with others both on a personal and societal level. The main character is a doctor who specializes in first-responder rescue situations; she used to be in police work and both professions are exercised to extremes in Machine. Some of the characters are artificial intelligences, and I ...more
Lis Carey
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, f-sf, fiction
This is a standalone novel, the second set in the "White Space" universe of Bear's Ancestral Nights. There are some recurring characters, but no spoilers.

Dr. Brookllyn Jens is a rescue specialist on SPV I Race to Save the Living, better known by the shipmind's name, Sally. They operate out of Core General, a large, multispecies hospital, and have been dispatched to a site from which a distress signal has been received.

They arrive to find two ships, a centuries-old generation ship, and a current
Bonnie McDaniel
This second book in the White Space series shares a couple of characters with the first book, Ancestral Night, but the protagonist and setting is different. The setting is fascinating, and a character in its own right: Core General, a moon-sized multispecies hospital, and the artificial intelligence called Linden who runs the place. Its administrator--or Administree, as it's referred to--is a sentient tree named Starlight, and several of the important side characters are nonhuman sapients. Almos ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot. Unlike book one in this universe, I had no trouble understanding what was happening in this story:
Rescue specialist Doctor Brookllyn Jens and the rest of her team arrive at a huge generation ship and discover a damaged ship and shipmind with a robot peripheral caring for several thousand cryotubes. There’s also a methane-based ship, attached to the larger generation ship, with comatose inhabitants and a comatose shipmind.
With the help of their own ship’s AI, Sally, Llyn

I came into this second book in the “White Space” series as a clean slate – neither familiar with the author nor having read Ancestral Night (the first book in the series). The blurb alone enticed interest to wait anxiously on-line for one of the first library loan copies with anticipation of becoming a new fan. My excitement was unfounded. Even before the end of first chapter, I was unimpressed by Ms. Bear’s unpolished writing style, her lack of narrative clari
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This should really have been a DNF for me. I started reading because I generally enjoy Bear’s writing and I am slightly obsessed with lost generation ship stories. I really wanted to stop reading because the endless repetitive internal droning of the POV character bored me out of my skull very quickly, yet somehow I still kept pushing through this verbal avalanche because all the various moving parts of the mystery kept bugging me.

I don’t know if the author gets paid by the word or what, but th
Brian Clegg
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Bear is one of the best SF writers currently active, and Machine does not disappoint. As Bear makes clear in her acknowledgements, this novel, set in her 'White Space' universe, owes a debt to the Irish author James White's classic Sector General stories, which were a breath of fresh air in the 1960s. Like White's stories, the main setting here is a multi-species space hospital, with the central characters dealing with exotic medical problems. However, what we get in Machine is a lot m ...more
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in the mood for space opera, so this book fit the bill for me!

Doctor Jens is a search and rescue (in space) doctor. Aided by tech, a sentient ship, and a small crew, her group answers distress calls. I liked the world (universe?) in this book - the aliens were very alien - from tiny insectoid creatures, nitrogen breathers, etc. I also liked how people are assisted by sentient AI. However, things start to go wrong after a rescue on a very old ship. Many ships are sent to help with the best
Tim Hicks
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Straight-up SF from an experienced author.

We start with a not-quite-BDO but at least a solid "What the Heck Is Going On HERE?" and an excellent rollout of slowly increasing complexity.

Bit of a sag when we hit the "you can't see the private area" and realize that Of Course it's the key to What's Going On, and the author will let us see it when she's damn good and ready.

Lead character is good, supporting cast solid. Some mild snarky humour, just enough to keep the reader relaxed. I liked the h
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel to *Ancestral Night*, but there will be no spoilers. This is a "takes place in the same universe" kind of sequel, where we get some recurring characters rather than a continuation of the same story.

The bad news is that this book does not feature space cats (though Bear assured me on Twitter that she has plans for further books featuring space cats). The good news is that we get more mantis cop.

This book takes place about 5 ~~years~~ ans after the events of *Ancestral Night*. T
Oct 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review .

So no one will ever be able to accuse me of not being completely honest, even with books I got for free to review after this. I feel bad because this is an ARC and so with those I really want to be able to give good to glowing reviews. I do hope the author never sees this review.

But this book is frankly unreadable and I, unfortunately, hated it almost from page one. All of my issues were with the writi
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
This book starts with a space-opera-type rescue of an apparently derelict human ship from a long-ago era, with a disabled current-era non-human courier ship attached to it. The rescuer is an ambulance ship with a multi-species crew. The main character, Llyn Jens, is a human doctor and rescue specialist with a background in Judiciary, which is the Synarche's law enforcement/military arm.

The Synarche, as introduced in the Bear's previous book Ancestral Night, is an interspecies civilization sprea
Dee Arr
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
It was a treat for me to read a science fiction book that reminded me of the scifi I had read in the past. Shelves and web pages contain a plethora of fantasy books and while I enjoy reading those also, nothing beats a scifi tale with substance.

“Machine” fits the bill, adding plenty of meat to the pages by digging deep into the culture of a galaxy centuries down the road. Author Elizabeth Bear focuses on the world-building, and we receive plenty of descriptions of life in the future without it s
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Brookllyn Jens is an EMT in the Synarche’s ambulance spaceship I Race To Seek the Living. Elizabeth Bear’s soon-to-be-released second space opera novel in her White Space universe, is not a sequel to her 2019 Ancestral Night, but another story in the same universe. It opens on a rescue mission into the newly re-discovered generation ship Big Rock Candy Mountain, launched some centuries ago, before the advent of faster-than-light travel and before humanity entered the galactic civilization kn ...more
May 16, 2018 marked it as anti-library  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
'...about a woman who is a space trauma rescue specialist for an enormous multi-species medical center.' And this one here sounds even better?! ...more
Rogan Shannon
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley for providing this copy to review.

Representation: disabled and lesbian MC, casual queer rep in other characters with use of varying pronouns

Dr. Brookllyn Jens works on a medical rescue spaceship that's been sent to answer a distress call coming from a generation ship that left Terra a long time ago. Her crew arrives to find that the entire ship is in cryopods, the on-board AI seems to be unstable, there's a strange tinkertoy-like machine filling much of the ship, and there's
S.J. Higbee
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Another twisty mystery that starts in deep space. This time, however, the crew are expecting trouble, because Dr. Jens is a search and rescue specialist on the ambulance ship I Race to Seek the Living. She starts the story by getting ready to jump out of the ship, to gain entry into a lost generational ship from Earth. I loved her feisty, can-do attitude, and the fact that she suffers from chronic pain and is a lesbian. However, it’s just as well I strongly bonded with the main protagonist, beca ...more
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dr. Jens, a medical doctor who specializes in rescue operations, gets tangled up in a mystery when an old ship is found with hundreds of humans in cryogenic containers and a virus that may have infected her own ship.

3.5 stars
The immense amount of thought that obviously went into the worldbuilding and 'alien building' bumped this to a four stars as my rating here. I loved the description of alien culture and physiology - Rilriltok, the insect-like physician, who is terrified of the larger female
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