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Summary

Winner of the 2018 LAMBDA Award for SFF.

Shortlisted for The Nebula Award 2018.

Shortlisted for The Locus Award for Best Debut 2018.

Earth, 2144. 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?

©2017 Annalee Newitz (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group

Critic reviews

"Autonomous is to biotech and AI what Neuromancer was to the internet." (Neal Stephenson)

"Something genuinely and thrillingly new." (William Gibson)

"Holy hell. Autonomous is remarkable." (Lauren Beukes)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Just Plain Awkward

There was so much that I should have liked about this one, a Sci-fi Robin Hood, a dystopian future, gadgets, big corporation bashing, and all kinds of robots. And actually there were all those things and more. Jack, the lead, our Robin Hood and her piratical submariner's existence promised much. The grim forbidding world that Newitz creates has a very cogent air about it and the unfairness of modern day society is cleverly extrapolated along pharmaceutical lines. It buys into a lot of on trend tech like the Internet of Things and the narration by Jennifer Ikeda is consistent without being overly demonstrative.

So, there is a lot to like here but I just couldn't get on with it as a whole story. As I have described there are a lot of threads within this one but the thing that put me off was an awkward weaving of sexuality throughout which just kept jarring into the story. Woman fancies boy, man fancies woman and most combinations. What kind of brought it all down for me was a newly commissioned combat robot trying to come to terms with human sexuality after shall we say a relatively mild encounter with the man it is indentured to. There was nothing hugely offensive or explicit but it just felt awkward and odd to me. That and the fact that I wasn't finding the story as exciting as I hoped meant I called a halt a little over halfway through.

This of course means that the book really didn't suit me, as I said though there are redeeming features so if they sound good to you by all means go for it. I shall certainly be interested to see what other reviewers make of the whole thing. There probably are more open minds than mine better able to wrap themselves around this story.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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Could have been so much better

At times I really engaged with this book and was excited to see how it developed then the author repeated what they had done previously and tried to contextualise the burgeoning sexual desire of Elias and Paladin, this was extremely jarring and took me out of the story again and again and more importantly unnecessary to the plot, the narration was excellent and I would listen to her again but I doubt I would give this author a second try in the future