Descendant Machine by Gareth L. Powell is a smart science fiction adventure filled with witty dialogue. Descendant Machine is the second book in the Continuance book series. It is a very loose sequel to Stars and Bones the first book in the series, where no characters return and the events in the book are light years away and not mentioned. The only thing tying the books together is the set up for how humans currently live and what happened to Earth. You do not have to read the first book, Stars and Bones, to read Descendant Machine. The genre for this book is science fiction but I think of it as a deep dive into science fiction. This book explores subjects like AI, blackholes, and quantum physics. I do not have a brain for science at all but was able to understand these high levels of science that the book laid out. The opening scene was confusing me but I don’t know if it will be for new readers. I was trying to find out the connection between this book and to the last book, Stars and Bones. It took me a while to realize there was no connection. The book opens with chaos as the AI ship and their captain is getting fired upon during a sanctioned mission with some double crossing. The scene ends with a dire decision that will be the catalyst to the novel’s direction. The story is told through 4 perspectives which works well and keeps it fresh; 3 are with the main action while the other perspective keeps the tension of the ticking clock scenario. The pace of the novel is pretty fast. There are twists all throughout. There’s double and triple crossing from characters. The standout of the novel is the witty sharp dialogue that makes every scene enjoyable. The humor is across the novel that really helps with the pace. I was asked to join the Book Tour for Descendant Machine by Titans Books who provided me with a free copy via Netgalley. Descendant Machine by Gareth L. Powell is published on April 11 2023.
Plot Summary: 75 Years in the future the Earth will be at war and on the verge of armageddon, but as the missiles flew, the entity was watching and stepped in. A scientist just hours before had found the substrate, a way of which to travel from place to place over distance. Years after this event all earthlings are placed on giant arks called the Continuance, traveling through the substrate searching light years in the future for a new home. Nicola Mafalda works in transport, moving both people and things. She has just picked up a passenger that a Jzat, a four armed humanoid, does not want her to join the Continuance or seek out Ran’nah Abelisk, a Jzat that has knowledge of the Grand Mechanism, a device as big as a planet that is believed to block a worm hole. The Grand Mechanism has been up for centuries and the debate on how to get it open and what is behind it is the reason for war. Nicola is caught in the middle and her only tie is her former boyfriend, who is a Jzat. There’s a secret that some one doesn’t want out after Nicola is almost killed to keep it a secret. She takes it upon herself to seek out Ran’nah Abelisk and find out what he knows. She takes her ex-boyfriend, her AI ship “the Frontier Chic”, and ex military buddy with a grudge.
What I Liked: The humor in this novel is very funny and a theme throughout. The plot is complex, but once I figured everything out, it made sense and I thought it was really smart. The frog in the milk jug dialogue is such good writing and it is a hilarious observation. The second part of the book is so great, really good pace and high stakes adventure. I liked the way the Jzat were described and how their four arms worked. There’s another interesting bug-like creature that is named based on what their greatest weakness one is called Allergic to Seafood . I would love to see this species get explored more in future books. The twists and reveals added a lot to the story, there are some pretty great ones. The dialogue is very witty and fun, one of my common critiques in science fiction novels is bad dialogue, which makes this book stand out even more for its cleverness.
What I Disliked: The confusion at the beginning was a callout from the the first book Stars and Bones, when you write into chaos in your first line it makes it interesting, but you lose some connection to why we should care about these characters. Powell makes it up later but it was a little too much right at the beginning. The description setting up the scene was sometimes lacking, I would get confused which ships were in the vicinity of the others. There’s a battle where characters escape in a hatch, that took me a while to figure out which ship they got on to.
Recommendation: Descendent Machine by Gareth L. Powell is solid science fiction that is both smart and fun. When I described Stars and Bones I said it was like 3-4 really good concepts of Star Trek episodes combined and the same goes with Descendant Machine. Stars and Bones took its self a little more serious than Descendent Machine. I rated Descendant Machine by. Gareth L. Powell 4 out of 5 stars.
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