Autonomous by Annalee Newitz


I loved every single idea in this book, and want more novels by Annalee Newitz immediately. The many different ways that she looks at autonomy and ownership; the terrifying world that she's built where anything can be owned, and where pharmaceuticals are magically effective but kept from the masses behind intellectual property rights and high prices--all of it is fascinating and strange while also being entirely applicable to issues in tech right now. That, and the fact that our cast of main characters are all beautifully broken and widely diverse, is the genius of the book. The prose is easy to read, and moves quickly, giving us what we need to know without dwelling on extraneous details or adding unnecessary flourishes (a quality of her writing that has me nervously side-eyeing my own writing, where I'll be the first to admit there might be an unnecessary flourish or two...).

I particularly enjoyed Paladin's character arc, and the way she decides her gender because it is something that will make her partner happy, but also because it is one of the only decisions that she can make while being absolutely certain that it hasn't been pre-coded into her. There's a good amount of complexity in her decision that centers around both autonomy and identity, and her relationship with Eliasz is littered with decisions like that, and with misunderstanding on both of their parts. And yet. It works. It's complicated. He doesn't truly understand what she's going through, but he understands enough, and he shows that he's growing, and more importantly still, that he cares, which is enough for Paladin, and more than enough for me; it's nice to see an example of a relationship that isn't perfect, and may never be perfect, but is just... enough. And still achingly sweet. It's a beautifully realistic portrayal of a complicated relationship, and I loved it.

Definitely recommend this book, especially if you like robots, queered relationships, and questions about intellectual property law.

5/5 stars on Goodreads.