Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams
A Novel

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It is sci-fi in its most perfect expression — no robots, no explosions, no car chases. Reading it is like having a lucid dream of six years from next week, filled with people you don't know, but will. And its quietness is what belies any easy attempt to dissect it.
-NPR

Synopsis

“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

“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 suprise 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.
 

About Katie Williams

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Published June 19, 2018 by Riverhead Books. 304 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Tell the Machine Goodnight
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Apr 16 2018

With its clever, compelling vision of the future, deeply human characters, and delightfully unpredictable story, this novel is itself a recipe for contentment.

Read Full Review of Tell the Machine Goodnight: A... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Jason Sheehan on Jun 21 2018

It is sci-fi in its most perfect expression — no robots, no explosions, no car chases. Reading it is like having a lucid dream of six years from next week, filled with people you don't know, but will. And its quietness is what belies any easy attempt to dissect it.

Read Full Review of Tell the Machine Goodnight: A... | See more reviews from NPR

Reader Rating for Tell the Machine Goodnight
75%

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