Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Katie Williams comes to the blog today with a speculative, science-fiction-y story that is truly a story about relationships and interactions in our ever-busy, computerized world. Please read on for my review of

Tell the Machine Goodnight

Focused on the “quick fix” need that seems to have overtaken society, this story focuses on Pearl and those people who are part of her life, as she navigates the world and all of life’s stressors while trying to achieve happiness. What if there was a technology or machine that would actually hand you the key to your happiness in an almost paint by number set of steps? Would you use that, or rely on the tried and true? Well, Pearl is in need of guaranteed happiness, as her life is far from smooth. Her son Rhett clings to his melancholy and struggles with anorexia, her boss Carter who wants nothing more than power, and will manipulate the “machine” called Apricity to provide him those steps, her ex-husband and his new wife – both with secrets and lastly, a celebrity who has commissioned Pearl to create daily ‘readings’ from and for Apricity, even when the LAST thing she would want to do is deal with yet another faceless machine.

Told in a series of vignettes that explore the character’s lives as they seek connectedness and happiness with varying degrees of failure – the strangeness of the world described is surprisingly prescient in these times of never offline and desk-bound interactions with few to no face to face meetings, debates or relationships. Alternately bizarre and fascinating (who doesn’t love to people-watch) the story has a sense of ‘it couldn’t happen moments that quickly become I just saw that. And not all of those revelations are particularly comfortable, even as they make the book hard to look away from.

Williams draws readers into these lives, connected yet surviving on different planes, all in search of the same thing – an honest and real connection that brings happiness, and the multitude of ways they find the pathway laid out by the machine to be yet one more step away from their goals and the people who they share their lives with. A favorite for the ideas, characters and questions that arise with each new moment, leaving the impression long after the last page is turned.

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Title: Tell the Machine Goodnight
Author: Katie Williams
Genre: Literary Fiction / Speculative
Published by: Riverhead
ISBN: 0525533125
Published on: 19 June, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 304
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 39 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour IndieBound GoogleAudible
See this Title on Goodreads

Pearl's job is to make people happy. Every day, 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 relationships and the ways that they can most surprise and define us. Along the way, Katie Williams playfully illuminates our national obsession with positive psychology, our reliance on quick fixes and technology. 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.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Katie Williams

Katie Williams is the author of the novel Tell the Machine Goodnight and the young adult novels Absent and The Space Between Trees. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Best American Fantasy, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, Subtropics, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. She teaches writing at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.


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