Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
My Rating: 5 stars!
Cover Rating: 10/10 I usually wouldn’t give a cover like this, this high of a rating, but after reading the novel I couldn’t think up a more perfect cover. It’s simple, yet elegant. In a way, it tells you exactly what the inside story is about. If there was one image to describe what Autonomous is it is exactly what this cover is.
Publisher: Tor Books
Publish Date: September 19th, 2017
Number of Pages: 303
Received: The Tor Book of the month for a month I don’t recall.
When anything can be owned, how can we be free
Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.
Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understand.
And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?
Opening Sentence: “The student wouldn’t stop doing her homework, and it was going to kill her.”
Autonomous is a smart novel. In every sense of the word. It’s language is very scientifically based, yet not in a way that is overly complicated. It’s well-balanced and fun to read. Yet, it’s subject matter is often serious. This is one of the first adult novels I’ve read. I was not disappointed. It’s one of the most intriguing as Sci-fi novels I’ve ever read.
What I Loved:
The relationships. The relationships in this novel are more then just interesting they are eye-opening. In a world where bots and humans co-exist some taboo relationships were bound to happen and I enjoyed reading about what that would look like. Also, I love that Jack is casually bi-sexual. I love seeing books have people represented as exactly who they are and it being accepted. No one cares about Jack’s sexuality and I feel like that’s how things should be.
It’s really well structured. I have not geeked out on the structure of a novel in a long time. It’s not something I typically even notice so much, but Autonomous has this balance of storylines past and present with so many things going on, but not too much, but all of it is interesting. Everything is important in the novel. There is no filler. In a sci-fi this is a magical thing that I have not experienced before.
No one is truly the good guy. Sure, everyone thinks they are, but no one is totally clean of doing something wrong. The whole point of Jack’s quest is to right a wrong that affected over a hundred people’s lives in a very negative way. Except she still reads off as a hero. But, in the end to those effected by what she did, their lives were ruined. It wasn’t completely her fault, but to those families I don’t think it would matter.
Talk about anthropomorphizing bots. Humans tend to want to humanize everything. I know I do it when I see my dog have emotional responses to things we do. As well as her very unique personality. It is very human. Yet you can’t fully give a human identity to an animal, but with something that looks so human-like? The lines blur. It was super interesting to read about.
The actual political system. The government system in this novel is not the biggest part of the novel, but it is very much there. There are rules and regulations that very much effect the plot. Also an indenture system that blurs the lines between what it is to be human. Where bots can be autonomous and humans can be indentured slaves. It’s incredibly interesting.
All in all:
Not much more can be said without spoiling this beauty of a novel. It’s gorgeously written. Filled with incredible characters. Very human situations. Pirates and parties and addiction and injustice. So much substance with every turn of the page. Autonomous is well worth the read.
About the Author:
Annalee Newitz writes science fiction and nonfiction. They are the author of the novels The Future of Another Timeline, and Autonomous, which won the Lambda Literary Award. As a science journalist, they are a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and have a monthly column in New Scientist. They have published in The Washington Post, Slate, Popular Science, Ars Technica, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic, among others. They are also the co-host of the Hugo Award-winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct. Previously, they were the founder of io9, and served as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo.
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