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The Machine Paperback – January 16, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door (January 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000750750X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007507504
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Savage, intimate, inexorable' Nick Harkaway 'The Machine is the work of a young writer with a preternaturally powerful and distinctive voice' Guardian 'Phenomenal ... simply unmissable' Tor.com 'Extraordinary' Dazed & Confused 'Reminiscent of Ian McEwan at his most macabre' Will Wiles, author of Care of Wooden Floors

About the Author

James Smythe was born in London in 1980. He has worked as a computer game writer and currently teaches creative writing. He also writes a blog for the Guardian. The Machine is his fourth novel and is shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2014. Previous novels include The Testimony and a science fiction series including The Explorer and The Echo. The Testimony was awarded Wales Fiction Book of the Year, 2013. He lives in London. He can be found on Twitter @jpsmythe

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Customer Reviews

One of the scariest books I've ever loved.
Ken
Science Fiction that terrifies, pulls on the heart and makes me think may be my favorite blend of genre fiction, and that story fit that niche superbly.
Tim C. Ward
The plot is compelling and James Smythe writes like a master of his craft.
Michael Kitto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian Mond on October 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like so many novels published throughout the year, the release of James Smythe’s The Machine has come and gone without much discussion. Of the six and a half reviews* I found in my three minute skim of the internet, all were lavish in their praise of the novel, noting that this was Smythe’s best books and one of the best novels of 2013.

And I agree. While I can’t say with any certainty that it’s Smythe’s best book – I haven’t read his three other novels – The Machine is one of the strongest novels I’ve read this year. It’s the sort of book that should be featuring, ad nauseam, on all the major awards list next year. But other than the Clarke Award and possibly the BSFA, the book is unlikely to get much award love.

If I was the ranting type I’d go on and on and on about how the lack of buzz for books like The Machine is precisely why Science Fiction as a genre is floundering. But I’m not sure I really believe that. Yes, there’s a case to be made that the current crop of writers still haven’t escaped the gravitational pull of Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein. But the fact is that while books like The Machine might come and go, making only the smallest of ripples, they still get published. And for me, above all, that’s what’s important. That there’s still a market for books that don’t fall into the well worn groove of third person omniscient and linear narratives and deal with difficult, uncomfortable issues.

The Machine is written in present tense. It doesn’t use quotation marks for dialogue. It deals with issues of memory loss and identity and the friction between science and faith. The setting is bleak – a future Britain that’s suffering from the effects of global warming. And it’s unrelenting. Claustrophobic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tim C. Ward on October 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My first experience reading James Smythe was discovering his novel, The Explorer, a book which became my Top 3 read of 2012. It hooked me from the first sentence and gave me a story that was never boring, creating strong empathy for the main character's plight in a fast-paced adventure through time and space, literally. Science Fiction that terrifies, pulls on the heart and makes me think may be my favorite blend of genre fiction, and that story fit that niche superbly. In fact, I don't know anyone else who does all three as well as Smythe.

The Machine has a similar feel to The Explorer, in that it is a Science Fiction that blends terror with the effects of cutting-edge technology on an individual level. The Machine is set in a future where society is struggling in the aftermath of a world war and global warming. The main character, Beth, is a high school teacher who struggles to keep her students' focus because everyone is so hot, they're perpetually tired and cranky. This setting is a nice backdrop to the feel of Beth's misery from losing her husband to the side effects of a technology meant to cure him of his PTSD.

The book begins rather slowly with the delivery of The Machine to her home. The Machine is an ominous device, so there is an obvious intent at displaying it for the reader like a sedated King Kong delivered to her living room, except more subtlety because we don't know yet what kind of trouble it can cause. Discovering that is the strength to the story's tug toward its climax. Smythe's prose effectively sets the tension inherent in this device, but requires more patience than the thriller, The Explorer. Haunting may be a better word for The Machine, effectively mimicking both the premise and feel of Frankenstein, seen through a modern-day lens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Enya977 on May 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great read The Machine captured my attention from other people's reviews and OH Yes it delivered. The Machine will keep you hooked from chapter 3 or 4 onwards. Yes the start is a bit slow but as other people have mentioned is necessary for the reader to understand the machine and Beth's chosen path.

I think this book will make a magnificent thriller at the same level as The Sixth Sense and The Other at the time.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The books strangeness, even the writing style of no speech quotation marks and the lone obsessed female perspective on love lost was a dark dramatic draw and gave it a primitive or old fashioned feel that worked ok with the hook of the machine. But the sci-fi hook of the machine never rose above this mystery of what it was and with a thin dystopia backdrop and otherwise ordinary rehabilitation story it didn't quite deliver enough meat on the bone or sci-fi ideas to excite. Nonetheless a curious and different tale that harks of future mind and memory blunders where the past has trodden already.
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