Autonomous Book Review photo

Stepping away from the wild and fantastical theme typical of science fiction, Annalee Newitz’s grounded
and realistic vision of the future seen through her novel,
“Autonomous,” describes a future in which robots, people and ideas can be owned or indentured.

Set in the year 2144, the world has become highly competitive as large corporations hoard patents to  pharmaceuticals that have the potential to better society, but only for those who can afford them. Among them is an advanced drug that allows people to experience a new passion for their monotonous work while also creating an extremely competitive job market. The main character, a patent pirate with a dispirited past, soon discovers a suspected error in the compound that could result in worldwide death and collapse.

Overall, the book presents a truthful and poignant vision of the future that, between the lines, is quite hopeful. Newitz took great influence from the present world, and with exceptional detail and world building created an authentic world that feels unique and yet an accurate portrayal of the years to come.

The only negative takeaway is that the morals related in the story will occasionally rise to a dramatic and self-righteous form, taking on a shape that moves past relatable and towards a viewpoint. While not as extreme, the experiences intermittently take a form that almost feel disingenuous.

The book is an excellent piece of science fiction and a reflection of our society that is not aggrandized or overly dramatized. The author provides a realistic and driven character to follow with a touching and unfortunate journey. The technology and environment felt tangible and lived in, with ideas well represented within the text and scenes that flow into organized action scenes. Highly recommended to anyone looking to indulge in a novel based on futurism and advanced technology with flushed out characters and a relatable narrative.

Rated: 8/10