cover image Autonomous


Annalee Newitz. Tor, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9207-7

In a phenomenal debut that’s sure to garner significant awards attention, Newitz, cofounder of io9, sends three fascinating characters on an action-packed race against time through a strange yet familiar futuristic landscape. After pharmaceutical pirate Jack Chen’s latest batch of reverse-engineered performance drugs proves dangerous and sometimes even fatal for the users, she sets out to rectify the damage by finding a cure and exposing the corrupt manufacturer who first developed the drug. As she dodges the authorities and agents of the International Property Coalition, she reconnects with figures from her checkered past and comes to terms with her role as an antipatent scientist-crusader. Meanwhile, the IPC agents on her tail have their own issues: human Eliasz and indentured robot Paladin are developing unexpected feelings for each other, with Paladin prompted to reconsider his gender identity, which may complicate their relentless search for Jack and her allies. Newitz laces her narrative with sincere explorations of free will, social accountability, corporate morality, and scientific responsibility. Jack’s liaisons with lovers of various genders and Paladin’s own gradual evolution contribute to a skillful inspection of attraction and identity that feels right at home in Newitz’s fragmented, frenetic society. Agent: Laurie Fox, Linda Chester Literary. (Sept.)