Finished up Autonomous by Annalee Newitz earlier this week. For the past year, I have been trying to blend more recent works of fiction into my reading list. Autonomous was published by Tor in 2017. It was a Lamda Award winner and a Nebula Awards nominee. When I read the blurb, it was obvious the book would be advocating strong political and social positions, but the reviews indicated it was a book worth reading.
While the character development, story line and world building in Autonomous are solid and creative, the reading experience is diminished by the author’s almost manic focus on using the story to advocate for their position on a much wider range range of political and social issues that I even expected. It’s not that I mind when an author uses their craft like this, but it should be done with a deft hand and with the understanding their perspective on a issue is not the only one. Unfortunately, Annalee Newitz decided otherwise.
Here is a video review of Autonoumous that has a more favorable impression than my own. Thought it was also worth sharing.
Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap medicines for those who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.
Hot on her trail is an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his indentured robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understands.
And underlying it all is one fundamental question: is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?