Tuesday, July 25, 2017

From the publisher: 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?
One of the most hyped upcoming releases in science fiction is Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. It is well written and kept me reading. It is, however, extremely bleak. The way the author deals with the issue of autonomy for both humans and robots is thought-provoking, as are the plot threads about health care in the future. While I had a hard time liking any of the characters, they were memorable.

This debut novel from the founding editor of the science fiction site io9 reminded me of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, the TV series Andromeda, and most of all the movie Blade Runner. If you like bleak space operas about a fallen Earth, this book may be for you.

I read an advance reader copy of Autonomous. It is scheduled to be published in late September 2017. It will be available at the Galesburg Public Library as a print book and as an ebook.