Descendant Machine by Gareth L. Powell [7/10]

Gareth Powell is one of the seemingly many well-regarded science fiction authors I have never read or even come across. The British author has penned ten books before Descendant Machine. Powell ingeniously builds, amongst scenes of escalating adventure, a wondrous world of mega-spaceships traveling through space with humanity’s post-Earth denizens aboard, connected by an instantaneous travel capability. The novel’s heroes are a sentient AI scout ship and her human navigator (in this world, trans-space travel needs ship and navigator mentally linked in a symbiotic relationship) who investigate another alien (but nearly human) world abutting a strange, huge Mechanism of mysterious origin and design. The author writes smoothly and stylishly, with credible, flawed characters, and the story builds up under excellent narrative control. Without plot spoilers, I found the tail end of the book, including its climax, enjoyable but excessively imaginative, but overall Descendant Machine was a sprightly, fascinating read. I hope there is more to come (this is the second in a series without continuity of characters).

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