Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Machine Paperback – January 9, 2012
See the Best Books of 2017
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99 (Save 75%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The story is really much, much more complex than I've described. This story addresses issues of religion, sexuality, and gender. It addresses what it means to be human. It faces sexuality - and harmful sexuality - head on. The book is all about the consequences of the choices we make - to ourselves, and to others.
This is a very sexual book, so delicate readers be warned: the graphic sexuality is scary. Don't go there if you don't think you can handle it.
What fascinated me most about Celia was her coming to terms with her existence as an android. I LOVED THAT. This book needed more of that. The pain she felt... it was so real. But was she real?
I wanted to explore the reality of Celia's existence, and all the questions raised by a sentient android. Is she really Celia? Or is she just a recording of Celia and stuck in Celia's emotions? She clearly isn't human anymore. So what does it mean to be a machine? Can she divorce herself of all her human emotions?
What I hated about this book: All the politics. I get it. The author is drawing comparisons between the fictional treatment of her androids, and modern societal treatment of the transgendered (and perhaps other stigmatized people).
I am already in agreement. As a society, we treat the transgendered poorly. There should never, ever be a circumstance where someone is discriminated against because they are differently bodied.
I just don't need to be lectured about it. And that's where the book lost me - in the lectures. I wouldn't mind, except I've heard them all before. Yeah, the lectures are correct, but I don't need to read them over and over.
In my humble opinion, the author was trying to make her point with a hammer, when all she needed was the delicate stroke of a paint brush. I know that's a weird analogy. What I mean, is that she could have dialed the political rhetoric back and I would have reached the exact same conclusions.
So I took a star away for too much political rhetoric. Otherwise I freaking LOVED this book.
Machine is a reversal of typical stories of this genre. Our Pathos begins as human, becomes inhuman, and goes to monstrous, yet somehow beautiful, lengths to accept that inhumanity.
This book is a heart wrencher that I could not put down. If you are looking for a fun, sci-fi romp, I would not recommend this book. If you want something serious, do not hesitate to purchase Machine.
My criticism with this book has to do with the ending. While I will do my best to try not to spoil the specifics, it's impossible to discuss what I found disappointing without at least talking a little about the final couple of chapters.
So please keep that in mind as you read on...
Science fiction is often used as a vehicle to explore current social problems. Framing the issue around fantastical elements can help to diffuse the emotional heat and thus open the concept(s) up to readers who might otherwise shun the issue(s).
"Machine" actually chooses to tackle a number of very hot-button issues. One is the social prejudice surrounding homosexuality. Another is the intense religious debate regarding the soul and when human life begins and ends. Finally, it comments on the concept of body modification and prejudices surrounding those who choose to drastically alter their physical selves (not just the ideas of tattoos, piercings, etc., but even plastic surgery and gender reassignments).
The story wraps all of these issues into one package: The ability for a human being to download his or her consciousness into a mechanical body. The questions this technology raises are: Is such a person still human? Are they entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else? Should they be allowed to do with their new bodies what they wish?
At first I thought it was a bit heavy-handed to make the main character, Celia, a lesbian and then also imply that there are still prejudices against her for that in this world. However, as the story progressed, it actually made a fair amount of sense. Not only does underscore her shock that her partner has trouble with her choice, but it also lays the foundation of the psychological burden on her that facilitates the additional choices she makes as the story progresses.
Celia is a woman who has never really fit in, and she suddenly finds herself in a body that puts her even more on the outside of what society is willing to accept. Relatively quickly, Celia discovers an underground community of other "artificial" people and learns that they sometimes modify themselves to be even less human. And Celia finds this notion to be irresistible.
The bulk of the book finds Celia attempting to balance maintaining her old life with exploring a new "machine" life. It's here that the book is at its most interesting and the author manages make almost completely foreign concepts make sense - for example, the sudden appeal Celia develops for gaining the ability to "turn herself off" (called a lockdown in the story).
There is a lot of setup and world-building involved, but the story never drags. The payoff, of course, is when Celia begins to fully immerse herself in the machine world, but the anticipation the novel builds before this happens is exactly right.
Where things begin to fall about, however, is toward the end. Events begin to happen very quickly, with some last minute revelations about main characters that feel almost anti-climactic. Celia also finally undergoes a major change and it, too, feels rushed and underdeveloped.
And then the story commits what is, to me, the cardinal sin of fiction. It is here that I must give my final ***SPOILER WARNING*** because it is the crux of my disappointment with this story.
Hopefully without explicitly giving away too much, I will simply say that the author makes story choices for the final couple of chapters that completely invalidate everything that precedes them. It is a frustrating choice that also leaves many unresolved plot points hanging.
Still, despite the ending, I found the book to be a highly enjoyable read and worthwhile. I only wish that a little more work had gone into refining the last act of the story.