The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher

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The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Welcome back to the world of the Spider Wars, but let us not focus on these killer eight legged beasts. Instead, let us discuss the politics of a future Earth in a follow up that takes a little time to come to the boil.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783292035

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It is the nature of human beings to make life difficult for themselves. If, as a race, you are fighting a war against a horde of Artificially Intelligent metal spiders, you don’t need the added grief of internal politics. In the world of The Spider Wars, the political situation has just exploded after a series of high profile assassinations. Where are the bug hunters when you need them? Too busy hunting hired killers instead!

With the death of two leading political powerhouses, the government of Earth is under threat of revolution. The only people able to investigate are the agents of the Fleet Bureau, a body set up to offer a neutral political standpoint. This means that Special Agent Von Kodiak finds himself in the heart of government when he would much prefer to be stamping out the Spider menace. However, the two instances may be more closely linked than he can imagine as the Spiders’ AI is working on the espionage front as well as building giant eight legged freaks.

The first outing in the Spider Wars was an intense and claustrophobic affair as the Spiders’ AI started to take over a remote space station person by person. For the second book author Adam Christopher has decided to set the book in the same universe, but completely change the style. Gone is the Alien feel, in favour of overblown space-operatics. What was once a contained and riveting universe has opened into something that borders on the bland.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars taught us that no matter how much we love a science fiction universe, no one wants to watch/read all about politics in a made up world. Christopher seems to have not heeded this lesson from recent history and creates a book that should be about fighting giant mechanical spider in space and instead makes it a book about space politics. The first third is a rather plodding affair as we learn about the structure of the Fleet that controls future Earth. Rather than building directly on from the events seen in Burning Dark, Machine Awakes instead uses it as a trigger for the political upheaval back on Earth – a footnote in this story.

Readers may be initially upset to realise the investment they had in book one was limited and their despair will only be compounded as the politics are revealed. However, persevere for 70 pages or so and the book begins to open. The good elements of the book all come from the character of Agent Von Kodiak, who is officially dead, making him free to go anywhere and do as he wishes. He is the person that drives the story onwards and it eventually settles in a very interesting place.

The final act of the book has all the elements you would want from a book that is extensively about killer spiders from beyond Mars. There is intrigue, betrayal and space battles galore. It also builds upon the Universe itself as a new corporate threat is revealed. Like in Burning Dark, it is the idea and universe that the series is set in that is of interest. Christopher appears to be an author with a great Universe, but who is unable to create an intriguing story within it. This happening once may be a mishap, two in a row begins to suggest a pattern. He needs to really develop an exciting narrative that uses the world of ‘‘Spider Wars’’ to its fullest for the series to expand beyond the average into the excellent.

The Burning Dark is the more enclosed first novel and a stronger outing in the Spider Wars chronicles, but a better novel by the author is actually a tie in Elementary: The Ghost Line.

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Buy The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher at


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