The last thing Andromeda remembers is entering her cryo’tank, ready to sleep through the hundred-year journey across the stars to a new planet. Along with her mother, a prominent scientist, Andra is part of a small group making the journey. But when Andra wakes up, she slowly puts together the horrifying truth: She’s been asleep for a thousand years, not a hundred.
What’s more, she’s stranded in a society that worships her as a goddess and has completely lost her society’s deep understanding of technology. It’s clear to Andra that Zhade, the young man who woke her, has his own agenda, but Andra hopes that if she follows him, she can scrounge up enough still-functioning tech to get back to Earth. For lack of any better option, Andra accompanies Zhade to the crumbling city of Erensed, where her precarious divine status and Zhade’s complicated relationship with the leader of Erensed make it difficult for her to move freely and collect the parts she needs. More disturbing discoveries will force Andra to reckon with her past, change her assumptions about the present and rethink her future.
Lora Beth Johnson’s ambitious debut novel, Goddess in the Machine, showcases a thrilling plot, colorful side characters and a world constructed with remarkable attention to detail. Johnson’s vision of how society, technology and language could be transformed in the next century and a millennia from now is thoughtful and inventive, yet the urgency of Andra’s plight never gets lost in the tech.
Sci-fi fans familiar with authors such as Christopher Priest and Isaac Asimov may see a few of the plot’s twists and turns coming, but Johnson’s pacing is perfection, and the payoffs of various reveals are satisfying. Andra is a smart and sensitive heroine who’ll leave readers eager to see what awaits her in the next volume of Johnson’s epic science fiction saga.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Lora Beth Johnson discusses the futuristic English in Goddess in the Machine.