‘manipulate the pieces’ The Machine – James Smythe | wordsofmercury
Apr 3, her life, forming new lifebonds and relationships, ending others, with James Smythe has tackled a similar theme before in The Machine but. Apr 27, The hosepipe ban started and never ended. When it rains Pingback: Book Review: The Machine by James Smythe» The Hysterical Hamster. Apr 11, 'manipulate the pieces' The Machine – James Smythe between each voice is thrown into sharp relief by The Machine's ending. with time and memory and the interest in relationships that continue after loss continues.
Book Review: The Machine by James Smythe | The Hysterical Hamster
Is there someone with a grudge out to get him, or can ClearVista see deep into your soul? This is one of my favorite novels of the last ten years. I often find myself pondering it at unexpected moments of the day. The Machine is set in Britain in the near future.
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Vic is a returning soldier from conflict in the Middle East. A victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he is a shattered man. His marriage to Beth could not withstand his psychological breakdown, but there was hope: The hope proved false, the machines had horrendous side effects and Vic was left without any memories at all. Can Beth restore the man she loves?
The book is a meditation on what makes us human. Are we the sum of our experiences, and if they are taken away what do we become? The Machine is a stylized piece of fiction, with a painstakingly constructed plot. On the brink of destruction, Earth sent out huge survival spaceships.
The Australia is still looking. Like most sealed systems that contain humans, things have gone badly wrong.
‘manipulate the pieces’ The Machine – James Smythe
Stairwells have been ripped out and their precious metal used for defenses or weapons. Two things the Australia has in abundance are anger and fear.
The ship has divided into factions. Some with agendas, some simply trying to eke out an existence until they can finally find a planet to call home. The class are almost completely silent as they watch the video: The bodies of dogs and cats in the street, floating down.
The Machine by James Smythe
The dead being dredged out onto boats. Beth goes to lunch and sits alone, on a table at the far end. She sees Laura, who makes a beeline for her. She starts talking about her life, how she argued with her boyfriend the previous night. As Beth burrows further into the rabbit hole, that intense focus somehow narrows further.
This should be off putting, close to unreadable, and yet Smythe somehow pulls it off. A world in which the government felt the need to make diazepam Valium available over the counter.
There are noticeable continuities of theme and phrasing. Complex narrative and emotional ideas are conveyed in a manner apparently free of all artifice as layers of repression are peeled back.
This is harder than it looks.
Smythe achieves a seemingly unmediated flow of thought and sensation as tender and raw as anything I have read this year. This world is in many ways more plausible than the ship-bound space of The Explorer and yet the island setting restricts the characters and the reader in a recognisable way. Smythe has not reached those heights yet, but that is the direction in which his voice is heading. The heat also has the effect of simultaneously evoking both a hazy past and a threatened future, hot oppressive summers and a warmed dystopia.
As the fans whirr in the background, this heat also suggests an overclocked world, a world which has been made to do and be too much.
A world in which coldness means death. That flash-rush of coldness envelops.
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Smythe is improving with each book he writes, the voice becoming simultaneously more distilled and yet more complex. His preoccupation with time and memory and the interest in relationships that continue after loss continues.