Thursday, 22 January 2015

Gods in the Machine - Marilyn Peake


Title: Gods in the Machine
Author: Marilyn Peake
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2011
Formats: Ebook

Review:
“Gods in the Machine” by Marilyn Peake is a Science Fiction novel with a rather interesting premise. It follows a shady government department who are using orbiting space hotels as a base from which to fight off a perceived alien incursion. This governmental department is not afraid to use holograms and manipulation of the truth to deceive people in an attempt to ensure that the people of Earth are ready to support the fight against an expected invasion.

This interesting sounding plot line was enhanced by many other intriguing facets such as time travel, family issues, drug addiction and religious dogma. Unfortunately, it didn’t hang together very well; the pacing is slow and disjointed which meant at times it felt rather confusing and unsatisfying. The complex plot fell apart as the novel just wasn’t structured in a decent manner, with the author constantly getting bogged down with minor elements. This was particularly noticeable in regards to the characters, Peake seemed determined to detail every minor character to the nth degree. This felt completely unneeded, especially when I realised that some of the characters appeared to have no actual purpose and were actually all rather one dimensional. It just meant that I struggled to know who I should try and engage with.

In addition, Peake tends to consistently feel the need to over-specify things. For example, “General Nate Williams” is always that, he is never “Nate”, “The General”, “Him” or “He”, he always seems to be described in full, even in dialogue between characters which results in a rather clumsy feel. Using his full moniker at times was fine, but it would have been nice to change it up a little bit, especially when characters were talking about him. It isn’t all bad however as Peake does have a decent descriptive ability and I was always able to understand what she was trying to portray, even if could maybe seem to be a pointless element of the story I just think she needs to get herself a good editor who could help her shape the book in a more efficient manner.

One thing that I didn’t really understand with the book was in regards to the lopsided future that Peak has created. The story is set far in the future, with space based hotels and high tech holographic technology, yet somehow we have people living in Mexico who believe a baby with a cleft palate is some sort of dodgy suspect child. I just find it hard to believe that in this future we are seeing, we have people almost terrified of a cleft palate. These sections of the book felt like they were set in the early 1900’s rather than a point in our future. It was probably the most obvious issue that affected my attempts at immersing myself in the overall story.

Overall, this novel has a decent premise but it is let down by some poor execution. Personally, I do find it quite hard to recommend this book as it wasn’t easy to work through the issues in an attempt uncover the interesting story hidden beneath. However, if the premise does interest you then feel free to give it a go, you may find it easier than me to forgive the problems.