August 15, 2021

Review: Engines of Oblivion

Engines of Oblivion Engines of Oblivion by Karen Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book of the Memory War duology, expanding on last year's Architects of Memory. The first thing you notice is that this is a fatter book than the first; the second thing is that the protagonist has shifted, with a secondary character, Natalie Chan, taking the lead this time around. The reason for this is soon made clear. Natalie is tasked by the corporation she was recently granted citizenship to, Aurora, to find and bring in Ashlan Jackson, the protagonist of the first book who has a tie with the alien hivemind species the Vai. 

I'm usually not fond of cyberpunk/consciousness upload stories, because current science says such a thing is impossible. Consciousness, as I understand it, is generated by the 100 billion neurons in the gray jelly inside our heads, and can't be separated from the actual physical brain. Having said that, the fact that this form of consciousness transfer is based on an alien species' technology makes the premise a little more palatable. Also, Karen Osborne has improved as a writer since the first book. The characterization, in particular, is much better in this volume, and the theme of deconstructing capitalism (in the form of the all-encompassing Corporate Alliance which has apparently swallowed up all this future's world governments) is even more prominent. 

The plot is denser and better constructed, and this is just a weightier book, both in terms of page count, theme and tone. It's nice to see a new author begin to hit her stride. This augurs well for the next book, but in the meantime, this one is worth your time. 

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