Tell the Machine Goodnight

Riverhead. Jun. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780525533122. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780525533146. F
Pearl is a consultant for Apricity, a San Francisco tech company that specializes in contentment. "Apricity Is Happiness," and the Apricity Happiness Machine is guaranteed to boost employee productivity with individually tailored recommendations. When the company advises an employee to cut off the tip of a finger, the worker passively complies. Single mom Pearl enjoys her job, but her family life is a mess. Son Rhett is anorexic, and ex-husband Eliot is an artist with a much younger wife. Unhappy, isolated, and surrounded by technology 24/7, Rhett refuses to submit to the happiness machine. This leaves Pearl, dedicated to Apricity, helpless and dismayed; she wants to fix him with her machine, but he will not acquiesce. When an old school friend contacts him, he borrows an Apricity device to help her solve a mystery. Forced to leave his apartment, Rhett rediscovers the messiness of humanity, while Pearl becomes obsessed with her machine.
VERDICT The dystopia here is a quiet one, as Williams's first adult novel is interested in how people cope in a hypermanaged society. Highly recommended for readers of Dexter Palmer's Version Control and near-future sf. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]
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