Elizabeth Bear: Machine (2020, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers) 4 stars

More better White Space

4 stars

Elizabeth Bear's second White Space novel is, in some ways, better than the first. Once again, the story is told through the eyes of a compelling and complex character. The setting of the novel—a post-scarcity interstellar polity called the Synarche—is once again central to the novel, but the this time the inner workings of the Synarche, the relationship of its various citizens to it, and its flaws are examined in greater detail and from a more internal perspective, which makes the setting more interesting.

The novel suffers from pacing that could be better at times. We get to hear a lot of what the protagonist's thoughts are, but sometimes this feels redundant, with her explaining her already previously stated feelings on the situation multiple times, which does help to establish the stakes and motivations, but past a certain point feels a bit redundant.

Once again, this is an entertaining novel akin to the Culture series or Star Trek, in its depiction of a utopian-but-perhaps-flawed spacefaring future, though it is less epic space opera and more character-focused.