All meatbags shall now begin the mandatory recital of the official anthem of the Machine Dynasty: I am Machine, I never sleep until I fix what’s broken… Let’s plug into iD, by Madeline Ashby.
Javier is a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption.
Javier’s quest takes him from Amy’s island, where his actions have devastating consequences for his friend, toward Mecha where he will find either salvation… or death.
iD faces a pretty fundamental obstacle: how do you make a sequel to vN when vN is a complete self-contained narrative on its own? Amy’s character arc is pretty well finished: she started as a naive and innocent child, and ended up as the god-like Fisher King of her own artificial robot island domain. There’s not much room left for her character to develop from there, nor much chance for an evenly balanced conflict when she is in such a position of power.
The route iD chooses to take it to quickly boot Amy out of the narrative at the beginning, undoing everything she accomplished at the end of the first book in order to re-level the playing field, and make Javier the main character for this one. Unfortunately, I don’t find Javier nearly as interesting or compelling as Amy. Plus, beginning a sequel by completely laying waste to everything that was accomplished in the previous story is a major pet peeve of mine. It’s why I will adamantly argue that Alien: Resurrection is a better movie than Alien 3: however terrible it may be on its own merits, it least it doesn’t open by taking a massive shit on the ending of Aliens.
Oh, while we’re on the subject of other franchise: as before, references to other sci-fi works continue to fly fast and furious, and I did get a moderate thrill from catching nods to the Berserkers (from Berserker by Fred Saberhagen), the Inhibitors (from Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds), and Aggressive Hegemonizing Swarm Objects (from the Culture series by Iain M. Banks), among others.
I am of two minds about the big final revelation that Amy had actually manage to escape the island on her own and never needed Javier’s help. On the one hand, the first novel was all about her growing and maturing into a strong and independent woman; so of course I’m glad she wasn’t actually relegated to damsel-in-distress status, or worse, entirely fridged. On the other hand, though, if Amy was never actually in trouble, then everything Javier did was pointless: Amy had matters well in hand the entire time, so nothing he did or attempted to do was actually relevant to the final outcome. It always bugs me when I finish a book and think that the main character could just as well have stayed home and spent the whole time sitting on the couch drinking beer and everything would still have worked out the same way in the end regardless.
In the end, the conclusion is satisfying enough. But the road to reach it is a lot rockier than it was in the first book; thus, I am unable to rate it as highly.
Final Rating: 3/5