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Beautiful Machine: The Orbs: Book 1 (Volume 1) Paperback – January 17, 2015
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About the Author
K. D. Morey spent two years as an entertainment journalist, published commercial art, and ran a small business. She has always loved science and earned a degree in Psychology before leaving that path to pursue a love of storytelling. When not writing, creating or gaming K. D. Morey spends her time exploring the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest collecting rocks and herbs, or lavishing attention on her obligatory author’s cat.
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I've read tons of really good SF, including many Hugo and Nebula award winners and nominees, so I have high expectations. I was not disappointed. Morey is quite good at world building. Her future Earth with its stranded aliens and abandoned cities is not some post-apocalyptic dystopia that seems popular. Given the changes brought about by the alien Orb gateways, it's very plausible.
Her aliens are well thought out. They're humanoid in form, which certainly helps readers envision them, and the art in the back of the book certainly helps. I don't know if other intelligent life will follow the humanoid pattern when we eventually make contact, but SF is well-populated with the type.
There are mysteries presented. Alexis, the main character, can't remember anything before she'd been found by an Ailo scientist in a barren area near a large abandoned city three years earlier. Nobody knows why the Orbs, which served as gateways to other inhabited worlds and linked numerous intelligent races, closed a century before the story begins. How will the races deal with this closure? The answers lie in a data crystal Alexis, with the help of two aliens and another human, must take to a hidden research center while avoiding apprehension by those who want the data for their own use. Along the way, Alexis learns there's a lot more to her than anyone, even she herself, realized.
The story moved along very well, with increasing wonders revealed as Alexis and her companions travel. Several times the unexpected happens, but it all unfolds plausibly. It is well-paced and keeps a reader's interest. The story ends at a logical point and it's obvious there will be more in future books. A second instalment will be out soon, and the author told me she expects to be writing about the Orb civilizations for a long time. I know I certainly want to read more.
My one complaint about Beautiful Machine is that it all goes by very fast. Which doesn't mean that the characters aren't fully fleshed out, that the world isn't well explored or that the story seems rushed. But there's so many neat things going on here that I would have happily read a few hundred more pages. The author mentioned to me that she enjoys MMO's, and the world she's created feels very much like an MMO in a very positive way. Each location is rich and detailed, and feels like a place you can visit. There's so much great world building here that I'd love to create a character, pay my monthly subscription fee and run around exploring the swamps, ruins and multi cultural cities that are introduced in teh book. In fact, I think the world building is the strongest aspect of Beautiful Machine. And that's not to dismiss it's engaging story and characters. But as much as I want to see where teh story goes and learn what happens to Alexis next, I'm even more interested in seeing more of this world and exploring it in detail.
Reading through K.D. Morey's first work, I was sucked in by the complete world that was presented and enjoyed the character development and growth throughout. When reading science fiction, I find that too many liberties are taken with the "science" portion of the story, however I was not overwhelmed by impossible situations nor techno-babble that is all to characteristic. I find the story to be very approachable for all mature readers, and I look forward to the sequel.