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Posted January 31, 2012
Whether you call it science fiction, or speculative fiction, or sociological fiction, or any other term, the genre field is about technological advances, but more importantly, what those changes in technology mean to us as humans. The best examples show us how people's lives are altered with this new leap in the sciences-- what about us changes, and what remains essentially the same. The humanity of the story is what truly matters. In Machine, the humanity of the story is all, as it should be. Jennifer Pelland gives us a heart-rending tale of a life altered by a technological advance. When science can put our consciousness into a mechanical body, who would want to go back to their fleshly frame? When there are, in effect, two of you, which is the "real" one? Does that term have significance anymore? How would your loved ones react to your mind in a different shell? These questions and more pop up in this masterful book. So many different viewpoints are shown as to what people would think about the technique, and what happens to those who undergo it. There are religious and ethical protesters, opportunists, fetishists, and others who are portrayed against the personal struggle of one woman to keep her identity and life together. When, for medical reasons, the protagonist Celia Isoke Krajewski undergoes the procedure to put her fleshly body in stasis while she "lives" in a mechanical copy, she awakens to find that in the eyes of some, she is now a monster. Those now opposed to her include her nearest and dearest loved ones. She soon becomes an outcast, separated from all she has known. She finds unlikely allies in her struggle to understand who she now is and what that means. The book realistically shows that although society changes in regard to some personal choices, people in the book continue to hold bigoted opinions about what others are doing with their bodies and selves. The characters are tolerant about their own choices, but demand that others submit to a different standard. So we have a grand example of a book that examines what it is to be human when the boundaries of humanity are stretched and morphed into alternatives. Is it an evolution or an abomination? Machine will make you think and give you a new understanding about identity, gender, and beliefs. When you have finished with Machine and want to read more by this talented author, get her book of stories, Unwelcome Bodies, with further explorations of identity and change.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2012
This is a very gritty, very creepy, extremely insightful book.
Is the self in the mind, in the soul, in the body, or in all of the above? Is a constructed body that is virtually identical to the original a place where the human psyche can feel at home?
Celia is inhabiting an android body that is virtually indistinguishable from the one in medical stasis, but while this seems like a perfect solution to the problem of deadly or debilitating diseases, as Celia discovers there are parts of society and the human psyche that cannot handle the difference.
This book handles the topics of dysmorphia and the tendency of us to think of our minds and bodies as separate entities so deftly that even though we are not living in the world Celia does, her turmoil feels very real.
An outstanding work that is very thought provoking, but not for the faint at heart.
Posted May 23, 2012
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