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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Blog Tour Review - Alone With You In The Ether by Olivie Blake

 Blog Tour Review - Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake

Chicago, sometime. Two people meet in the armory of the Art Institute by chance. Prior to their encounter, he is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. After their meeting, those things do not change.

Everything else, however, is slightly different.

Both obsessive, eccentric personalities, Aldo Damiani and Charlotte Regan struggle to be without each other from the moment they meet. The truth - that he is a clinically depressed, anti-social theoretician and she is a manipulative liar with a history of self-sabotage - means the deeper they fall in love, the more troubling their reliance on each other becomes.

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A constantly surprising and beautiful novel. I loved Alone With You In The Ether. 

It's a story about two people meeting, getting to know each other and falling in love, though possibly not in that order. To be honest, it's hard to tell in precisely what order they do those things, because Alone In The Ether has a tendency towards turbulence, turmoil and confusion. This is both deliberate and incredibly effective, beautifully capturing the mixed up emotions of love, desire and all that come with it. I've never known a story so cleverly depict the human need to pull people close while also pushing them away, the conflicting fears that we're not good enough for somebody and that they'll end up hurting us if we let them, the mixed up emotions when we just don't know what we're feeling, what we're thinking, what we want but there's this voice in our heads screaming someone else's name on repeat. Love is beautiful and terrifying, it can heal and hurt us, leave us feeling more connected to someone than anything else in the universe and entirely alone. Somehow Olivie Blake gets this all down in her gorgeous book. 

It's also a book about mental illness, and how people cope with it, or pretend to cope with it while really not. The author pulls on her own personal experience to show us her own truth, or rather a version of it as lived by Regan. Aldo has his own struggles and his own ways of coping. And again, we see the turmoil and confusion and peace and everything else along the way.

The style is really quite remarkable. It's constantly shifting, changing the way it tells the story. There's a sequence I loved with different narrators popping up, from a Chicago cubs fan to a bored sixteen year old girl, giving their own narrative spin on proceedings. Then it will move into a screenplay style. Conversations are laid out at times in reported speech. It sounds confusing, I guess, but it somehow works incredibly well, matching the storytelling style to the story being told, keeping things fresh and interesting. One of the most powerful sections is just the voice Regan hears in her head, telling her unhelpful things about herself and her relationship, and there's a blurring between voices, between what is her and what is her mother internalised and what is external, bringing her back to Earth. It's unsettling and disturbing and incredibly effective.

There are so many gorgeous moments in this book. The idea of only having a set number of conversations with someone is very moving. There's a beautiful sequence in a church showing the power of just touching someone else, how incredibly erotic someone's fingers on your leg can be. It finds all of the beauty and eroticism in everyday things and it's just gorgeous and sexy.

This is a story about two people who are broken in different ways, and how hard it is to find someone who can accept your brokenness and who will understand you, or at least nod and smile while not caring that they don't understand you, but will accept you and maybe fuck you. It is a story about art, and what art means, and science and bees and time. But ultimately it is a story about love and how it changes us into different people. With its jumbled confusion, it captures it beautifully.


Alone With You In The Ether by Olivie Blake is out now, published by Tor Books.

I was given a review copy in return for participation in this Black Crow PR Blog Tour and an honest review.


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