cover image Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories

Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories

Hugh Howey. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-328-76753-0

Bestseller Howey (the Silo trilogy) assembles 21 thoughtful science fiction and fantasy stories (two previously unpublished) that explore real and virtual worlds through human, alien, and artificial senses. Many of Howey’s tales, such as the title story, “The Box,” “Glitch,” and “Second Suicide,” are told from the points of view of nonhuman characters. “The Walk Up Nameless Ridge” and “Deep Blood Kettle” question human arrogance in alien circumstances. Unusual love affairs—a failed romance in “Promises of London” and a relationship between a human and an android in “The Automated Ones”—deliver old-fashioned emotional punches. Characters exploit virtual worlds in “The Plagiarist” and “Select Character.” Fans of Howey’s novel Wool will enjoy “In the Air,” “In the Mountain,” and “In the Woods,” set in the same universe. Author’s notes at the end of each story provide thoughtful background. Howey’s writing is taut and immersive, and his characters’ perspectives will fascinate, no matter how inhuman they are. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Oct.)