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Sci-fi Author Spotlight: Annalee Newitz

I love getting to know new authors I haven’t encountered before. I especially love getting to open up my horizons by seeking authors that may have very different life experiences from my own.

I recently tore through two outstanding audiobooks by Annalee Newitz, one founder of io9 and non-binary author with great skill and style. I started with their debut novel, “Autonomous,” which explores a future dominated by big pharma and navigating the complexities of living side-by-side with sentient robots. A drug called Zacuity give people increased productivity at work by making tasks more enjoyable thanks to the increased release of dopamine in the brain. Trouble is, people are wigging out on this stuff and dying. Jack Chen, a former revolutionary gone underground, feels responsible after reverse engineering Zacuity for the black market. It’s time for her to step up and make this right.

Check out NPR’s review of “Autonomous” here.

Newitz’s second novel is a twisting time travel saga called “The Future of Another Timeline.” It’s quite different from their first novel and feels more like Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Dark Places,” “Sharp Objects,” all of which I love) took a crack at writing a feminist, punk rock-fueled serial killer, time travel caper. That’s a lot to cram into one novel, but Newitz does with style and a cast of characters that inspires profound empathy. Their handling of tough topics like misogyny and abortion with nuance and realism without resorting to making characters into mere puppets for a political platform is honestly mesmerizing and refreshing in the age of politics via tweet. Here is an outstanding example of science fiction used as a powerful mirror that gives us a clearer, sharper picture of our present than we often get in other mediums and genres.

Don’t just take my word for it. Check out his Los Angeles Times review of “The Future of Another Timeline.”

Annalee Newitz has grabbed my attention and endorsement. Reader, be warned: this is science fiction for thinking adults. Both books go to some dark places, but both do so with awareness and honesty. Be it the exploration of humanity’s evolving anthropomorphic and sexualized relationship with robots or giving us an honest view into why and how a young woman might have an illegal abortion, Newitz allows the characters to speak for themselves and readers to contemplate the story for themselves.

I hope to check out Newitz work next in the new anthology of short stories called "Entanglements," released by MIT Press.

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