The Crying Machine – Greg Chivers

The question of what it means to be human is a well-worn one in SFF.  Greg Chivers gives us his take in his novel The Crying Machine (review copy from Harper Voyager).

Clementine is an artificial being, an AI consciousness in an augmented human body.  She arrives in Jerusalem a refugee from a Western Europe devastated by war and corrupted technology.  She tries to find her place in this strange, divided city.  In an attempt to get some money she falls in with criminals contracted to steal something from the museum.  That something turns out to be the Antikythera Mechanism– an artifact from Ancient Greece that is probably the world’s first computer.  Shenanigans ensue, and Clementine finds herself caught up in Jerusalem city politics and on the run from the authorities.

I’m afraid I was left rather cold by this techno-thriller.  It felt confused at times, and I struggled to engage with, or care about, the principal characters.  Although the focus of the story was on Clementine’s time in Jerusalem, too little was sketched in of what was happening in the wider world to have resulted in her arrival there.  This was a frustrating level of hand-waving world-building.

Goodreads rating: 2*

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