Loring Emery,
The Machine: A Science Fiction Novel
(La Pierna Tierna, 1999)

Set in the Arizona desert and told from the first-person narrative view of the main character, Matthew Stokes, The Machine begins with an explosion and the action never lets up. Stokes and his two business partners have just discovered a way to generate energy from oxygen through separation of isotopes. Their machine will guarantee that all persons can have access to a steady supply of low-cost energy. But there is a downside: the machine could be used as the ultimate weapon of destruction if it fell into the wrong hands.

Joined by their young cleaning woman, who desires to be a physicist but cannot afford college, the trio devise a way to conceal their invention. They purchase an abandoned solar facility and install their machine.

A surprise visit from the government's Occupational Health & Safety team fills them with fear that the machine may be confiscated. They learn they are being watched by the team. Then, the town mechanic is dumped in front of the solar facility. He has been shot in the chest.

The group must protect the machine at all costs. But an undercover team from the Federal Unconventional Weapons Establishment intends to have it. Soon, other machines turn up and true chaos follows. The team must find and eliminate all the machines and design records.

I was surprised that this novel is classified as science fiction. I would have thought it was action/adventure of the industrial espionage type. Either way, it kept me on the edge of my seat. I found the characters to be totally believable and the plot to be solid, with no deviations. The story progresses steadily without lulls.

The only negative point I found with this book is trying to decipher the German's broken English. Yet, this character would not be remotely believable if he did not speak with such a horrendous accent. It will certainly help if you are familiar with English-speaking Germans.

This is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 1 February 2003

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