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Of Humans and Machines

Updated: 6 days ago

An Electrifying Sci-fi Cyberpunk Thriller That Asks the Question, 'What is Humanity and Where is it Going?'


by E.F. Coleman

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"Species evolve to fit the environment, hey? Our environment is our society, and our soceity is technological. Two species startin' to emerge. Call them Homo mechanica, mechanical man, and Homo immechanica."

Set in 2054, Los Angelos, California, immechanica by R.F. Coleman introduces a world where tech has been integrated into every facet of life. Cars are no longer driven by people but are operated by A.I. Controlled with a thought, people now have implants that can do everything from giving turn-by-turn directions to projecting psychedelic imagery. In this version of the United States, tech and, by extension, extreme surveillance is the norm. But tech isn't the only thing that has changed the landscape. Climate change has left its mark, and corporate corruption is at an all-time high. Humanity, while not on the brink, certainly seems to be inching closer toward the cliff's edge.

Nadine, a wealthy Canadian transplant and failed actress, finds herself at an underground rave where she meets Anna. Anna's story is a bit more complicated - she is a hacker, but not just any hacker. Things go very quickly from tame to entirely off the rails when a few of Anna's associates mess with the wrong business. Now Nadine has been dragged into a world of high-stakes activism, and she's about to learn it's not just as simple as those who hold the money hold the power.

The book is frenetic and captivating -- there is lots of action and suspense. However, it feels like the author sacrificed character development for pacing. This novel is an absolute page-turner, creating and maintaining heart-racing tension that makes the reader feel like they're on the run too. But what would have taken this novel from good to great is if it had given us some time with our protagonist before everything started happening all at once. The reader doesn't get to witness the growing love between Nadine and Anna, just a hint of domesticity between two people who were strangers at the beginning of the book. More time with their relationship would have allowed us to develop a connection and feel the emotional weight of their choices in a way that felt genuine rather than the means to an end narratively.

Although most of the story takes place in well-known cities, the settings and timeline of events leading up to this future are relatively vague, except when Coleman uses specific brands. It might have been an attempt to ground the reader in this dystopian future, but I found it distracting. There are clearly some significant geopolitical and climate occurrences that have led to this point, but the reader never learns what happened. Like all the best dystopian narratives (Blade Runner, 1984, The Hunger Games trilogy), it seems this book seeks to sound the alarm but also asks the reader to question what the legacy of humanity will be.

This is a book full of potential. It starts off with an exciting concept that falls a little flat because the central narrative gets somewhat lost by trying to tackle so many profundities at once. However, while this book isn't perfect, its strengths far outweigh its flaws. It sticks with you, tackling big ideas like transhumanism, environmentalism, and the evolution of a species. This high adrenaline read is perfect for those who love big philosophical ideas and aren't overly concerned with the details.

immechanica will be available March 14, 2023.

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