But a bioandroid isn't a real person. Not according to the protesters outside Celia's house, her coworkers, or even her wife. Not according to her own evolving view of herself. As she begins to strip away the human affectations and inhibitions programmed into her new body, the chasm between the warm pains of flesh-and-blood life and the chilly comfort of the machine begins to deepen.
Love, passion, reality, and memory war within Celia's body until she must decide whether to betray old friends or new ones in the choice between human and machine.
*Don't forget to check out Jennifer's short fiction collection Unwelcome Bodies also from Apex Publications!
"The novel is unrelenting, driven by Pelland's unflinching eye and her absolute willingness to shatter her very vulnerable, not very emotionally resilient protagonist. It's a powerful novel, certain to emerge as one of the best of the year. I'll be remembering it next award season."
Adam-Troy Castro, SCI FI Magazine
"I'm not sure anyone else could take material like posthuman politics, kinky sex and body modification, and explicit metaphors for the abortion debate and euthanasia, and turn it all into a heartrending love story, but Jennifer Pelland nails the dismount every time."
NK Jemesin, Hugo-nominated author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
"Jennifer Pelland's MACHINE is the kind of book that sticks in your soul. The story and characters sink under your skin and challenge the way you think and haunt you long afterwards. This is what science fiction is meant to be."
Lyda Morehouse, author of Resurrection Code and Archangel Protocol
"Science fiction, at its very best, fearlessly challenges readers and compels them to look at the world around them in a different light – and that is exactly what Jennifer Pelland’s brilliant debut novel Machine does in grand style."
"It's at times disturbing, at times heartbreaking and it always keeps the reader on their toes. The novel offers an awful lot of questions for the reader to mull over. So many in fact that a couple of days after I finished it, I still haven't been able to pick my next read. Not many books manage to do that."
Val's Random Comments
"Good science fiction makes you think. Pulp science fiction entertains you. Great science fiction, on the other hand, makes you think while entertaining you. Such is the case with Machine by Jennifer Pelland."
Bibrary Book Lust
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About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I entered the world of Machine with trepidation. I have enjoyed every short story I've ever read by Ms. Pelland, though "enjoy" is a subjective term when it come to one's reaction to a Jennifer Pelland tale. I only hoped it would be as good as the least of her shorter works. This book was better than them all! It was longer, the plot was multi-level, there was more development of the characters, it was an engaging tale of a woman trying to decide who and what she really is. But still, through it all, there was the sense of "things are not quite right, but I cannot say why they are so very wrong" and the appearance of the unbidden shudder that marks a reader as having enjoyed a Jennifer Pelland work.The story is a fairly old one in the SciFi world- if you had an illness that there was no cure for, yet, would you be willing to put your body nice for a while, letting your mind carry on in a robotic body until your body is healed? What if you hate it? What if you like it so much you don't want to go back to the flesh body? And on & on. Ms. Pelland handles it superbly, showing the reader the conflict from a myriad of angles. The main character, Celia, has been placed in an exact copy of her physical body until a cure of her disease can be found. Unfortunately, Celia's wife hates Celia the bio-android, and wants her to go away, saying she will wait by the side of her love until the cure is found and they can be together once again. But, Celia cannot just turn everything off and, actually, doesn't really want to. In the course of trying to decide how she feels about herself, and her life, Celia meets a whole circus of characters that serve to make her look both more and less human at every turn. And then, and then, just when you think Celia's got it all under control, Ms. Pelland pulls all the rugs out from under everybody. And once again, I am left cursing the author far into the dark night as I shift through all the possible ways it could have turned out and wonder why I didn't even think once about the way it *did* end. Thanks, Jennifer, you have done it again.I do have to add a note that increasingly as the story progressed I was reminded of Brian Evenson's _Last Days_. Both books deal, in their own way, with the eternal question "How far would you go, what would you be willing to do, to achieve complete perfect happiness?". Or, as my evil twin would put it, "Body Mods to get closer to the Gods? Cool idea, but kinda kinky".
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.
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.