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Bryan Thomas Schmidt

My thoughts on books, stories, authors, and publishing

Currently reading

The Clockwork Dagger
Beth Cato
Progress: 120/360 pages
The Road to Science Fiction 3: From Heinlein to Here
James Gunn
The Road to Science Fiction 4: From Here to Forever
James Gunn
The Road to Science Fiction 1
James Gunn
A Broken Christmas
Claire Ashgrove
The Ultra Thin Man
Patrick Swenson
Progress: 174/334 pages
The Broken Eye
Brent Weeks
The Dark Between the Stars
Kevin J. Anderson
Oath of Fealty
Elizabeth Moon
The Road to Science Fiction 2: From Wells to Heinlein
James Gunn


Machine - Jennifer Pelland If the author had set aside her ideology and just focused on story, this would be a five star book, but unfortunately, despite being hard to put down, the story suffers under the weight of the preachy tone. Questions could have been asked and left up to readers to decide how they come down on the issue. But that doesn't happen here enough. And that's too bad, because there's a rollicking good Science Fiction tale underneath, one I found it hard to tear my eyes away from. But just when I was getting wrapped up again, the sledgehammer slung through with another ideological sermon and ruined the moment. I dislike ideological blathering in the guise of fiction, whether the ideology matches my own or not. In spite of that, the book is a fascinating tale set in a fascinating, well built world with a well drawn lead and some nicely handled, though thinly drawn supporting characters. The plot and pacing are almost spot on, except for the above mentioned preaching issue. The book just carries you along, infusing you with a desire to find out what happens next. The tale of a woman diagnosed with a rare, bad version of Alzheimers who takes advantage of future tech to have her "brain and memories" transferred into a biorobotic body until a cure can be found, while he fleshly body lies in stasis, Machine asks some truly fascinating questions about science. How far should it go and at what cost? Just because we have the technology, does that make it right to use it? Are there other questions we should ask? It's compelling and emotional and fascinating. Too bad the ideological lectures got in the way. None of those political things is essential to the story which already has so many deep questions to ask and does just by its plot and circumstances. The politics distract focus and would not be missed if they weren't there. Still, Pelland shows great talent as a writer and storyteller and I have no problem understanding why it found a willing publisher. There were probably several.