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Tell the Machine Goodnight

By: Katie Williams

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Imprint: Riverhead Books

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780525533122

Other Formats:

Electronic | Audiobook Download

On Sale: | Pages: 304

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FINALIST FOR 2018 KIRKUS PRIZENAMED ONE OF THE "BEST LITERARY FICTION OF 2018' BY KIRKUS REVIEWS"Sci-fi in its most perfect expression…Reading it is like having a lucid dream of six years from next week, filled with people you don't know, but will." —NPR"[Williams’s] wit is sharp, but her touch is light, and her novel is a winner." – San Francisco Chronicle"Between seasons of Black Mirror, look to Katie Williams' debut novel." —Refinery29 Smart and inventive, a page-turner that considers the elusive definition of happiness. Pearl's job is to make people happy. As a technician for the Apricity Corporation, with its patented happiness machine, she provides customers with personalized recommendations for greater contentment. She's good at her job, her office manager tells her, successful. But how does one measure an emotion? Meanwhile, there's Pearl's teenage son, Rhett. A sensitive kid who has forged an unconventional path through adolescence, Rhett seems to find greater satisfaction in being unhappy. The very rejection of joy is his own kind of "pursuit of happiness." As his mother, Pearl wants nothing more than to help Rhett--but is it for his sake or for hers? Certainly it would make Pearl happier. Regardless, her son is one person whose emotional life does not fall under the parameters of her job--not as happiness technician, and not as mother, either. Told from an alternating cast of endearing characters from within Pearl and Rhett's world, Tell the Machine Goodnight delivers a smartly moving and entertaining story about the advance of technology and the ways that it can most surprise and define us. Along the way, Katie Williams playfully illuminates our national obsession with positive psychology, our reliance on quick fixes. What happens when these obsessions begin to overlap? With warmth, humor, and a clever touch, Williams taps into our collective unease about the modern world and allows us see it a little more clearly.
“Tell the Machine Goodnight” possesses a strong narrative hook, but Williams makes sure that it doesn't haul too much weight on its own for too long.... Like the oracular pronouncements of the Apricity machines, “Tell the Machine Goodnight” moves in unpredictable directions. Williams ably captures the burdensome positivity of corporate culture, where being happy is sometimes seen as a job requirement. Her wit is sharp, but her touch is light, and her novel is a winner.
—San Francisco Chronicle
This is a story of many perspectives, which might feel a little overloaded for some readers, but I thought they all fit perfectly, and offer a comment as well on the fragmented existences we live online.... The book feels like an extended episode of “Black Mirror,” and certainly has that show's taste for dark humor and high-concept philosophizing around our tech addiction, though what raises it above another clever-clever slab of science fiction is that its characters are complex and contradictory and real. For better or worse, you care about them.
—New York Times
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