On the Horizon – machina (Fran Wilde, Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Martha Wells) – Serial Box time!

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from Serial Box in exchange for an honest review.  Here be me honest musings. . .

Title: machina

Authors: Fran Wilde, Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Martha Wells

Concept created by Fran Wilde

Publisher: Serial Box

Publication Date: TODAY !!! (e-book/audio book)

Source: Publisher


Well mateys, back in the day I was surprised when a company called Serial Box contacted me out of the blue offering an advanced copy of one of their sci-fi stories.  That was the vela and was an absolute treasure.  For those unfamiliar with the company:

Serial Box brings everything that’s awesome about TV (easily digestible episodes, team written, new content every week) to what was already cool about books (well-crafted stories, talented authors, enjoyable anywhere).

Like TV, we release a new episode of our serials every week and serials typically run for seasons of 10-16 weeks. Easy to pick up, episodes are enjoyable on their own but build over the course of the season to tell a bigger story. Each episode is available in ebook and audio and takes about 40 minutes to enjoy.

So when Serial Box’s recent communique nicely offered me a copy of machina of course I said “Aye!”  The talented bunch o’ scribblers in this batch have written excellent yarns including: updraft – book 1 (Fran Wilde), waypoint kangaroo – book 1 (Curtis C. Chen), and all systems red – book 1 (Martha Wells **I LOVE MURDERBOT!!**).  Take these writers add an AI competition and ye get an excellent combo.

On this version of Earth, climate change has brought about the beginning of the end.  Humanity is looking to Mars as its future home.  To accomplish that goal, companies around the world are designing AI robots to terraform the red planet.  So what better way to choose the final AI system then a competition?

The focus of the story involves two AI companies – DevLok and Watchover.  The leaders of these companies have different approaches and a very bad history with each other.  So while the competition heats up, old rivalries get out of hand.  I absolutely loved seeing what their tech could do even though early on I certainly picked the team I was rooting for.

While the competition is the focus, the characters and their interpersonal relationships are the highlight.  I absolutely loved the bartender Smits and his robot dog.  The Moonshot bar is excellent neutral territory and I loved pretty much every scene that took place there.  Other favourites include Cameron, a non-binary coder, and Hiro, the journalist who happens to be an actual tech geek.  HR head Simplicity was a hoot.  There is also a romance subplot between rival factions that I found sweet and loved.  I was even entertained that the corporate suit, Nico, grew on me.  Watching his reactions to all the volatile personalities was fun.

I wanted to wait and listen to the episodes as they came out but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.  No patience for me!  I thought the writing blend was excellent and eventually gave up tracking which author wrote which section.  I love when that happens.  Out of the 10 episodes, I really loved the first 8.  The final competition was a bit predictable but I still enjoyed it.  I can totally see meself picking up the audiobook and revisiting the story that way.  The first episode releases today – go and check it out!

So me hearties, I raise me grog in toast to Serial Box and this fantastic season.  May we continue to savour this truly wonderful partnership.  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Serial Box!

Serial Box’s website has this to say about season 1 of machina:

To visit the authors’ websites go to:

Fran Wilde – Author

Malka Older – Author

Curtis C. Chen – Author

Martha Wells – Author

To buy the delightful series go to:

machina – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for Serial Box

the vela (On the Horizon – Sci-Fi eArc)

8 thoughts on “On the Horizon – machina (Fran Wilde, Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Martha Wells) – Serial Box time!

  1. I am listening to this one- so I’m waiting for the new episodes to be released each week, but loving it so far! And I can’t wait to get to some of the parts you mentioned (robot dog?!). Great review!


  2. I’m so glad companies like Series Box are trying to revive serial reads. This was how so many famous authors, like Dickens and Conan Doyle made all their money! But I wonder how successful the program will be — we live in a world of instant gratification. Do people want to wait and listen/read an episode week after week? I see you didn’t want to wait. 😉 This is why Netflix is awesome– it lets us binge!

    Do you think if episodes were released weekly you’d still read serials?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would certainly read serials weekly depending on me schedule. If I didn’t have a ton of time then at least I could sneak an episode in here and there. I would treat it more like a podcast. Not that I have time for those either these days.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

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