The Last Machine the Solar System – Nearly three billion years into the future, the solar system is a very different place. Earth is long gone, and the sun is a gray, shrunken dwarf. All that remains of humanity and conscious thought is Jonathan the last machine.
Created to survive Earth’s destruction by our ever-expanding sun, Jonathan witnessed the end of life on Earth. This is his story and that of his creator, Nikolai. It is also the story of the human race, which failed to disentangle its destiny from the star that gave rise to all life-forms on Earth.” – Goodreads
The Last Machine in the Solar System Review
The Last Machine in the Solar System is a book that is surprisingly heavy for as small as it is. Matthew Isaac Sobin gives us an unconventional look at the end of the world through the eyes of a robot. A robot that was built specifically with the end goal in mind of observing the end of the world. It is a book that is soft on the science part of science fiction, but still a great read. It is not meant to be an epic adventure or even your basic sci-fi novel with story arc. Instead, it’s a treatise on the human condition, the memories of the last ‘person’ with conscious thought as he looks back on humanity’s decline and eventual extinction.
One of my favorite parts was where the robot is thinking back on the destruction of the human race. He’s pondering what it would have taken for humanity to save itself. Through that lens in The Last Machine in the Solar System, Sobin is able to give a pointed and accurate look at humanity as a whole. Humans value their individuality too much to ever give it up even if it means it would save our race as a whole. It makes you wonder what we would give up by banding together like we would need to. Are the things that we view as a necessary part of being human really necessary? Is happiness really that big of a deal? I referenced this in my article on cyborgs a few weeks back.
The writing is smooth and rich. Almost decadent at times. The Last Machine in the Solar System is a book that’s meant to be read slowly. You are meant to taste each individual word as everything is slowly revealed. Not that there is any grand ‘reveal’, but instead just a slow wind towards an inevitable conclusion.
The Last Machine in the Solar System leaves the reader with a feeling of melancholy as they read the last sentence. But not all books have to leave us with a happy ending. This book does what it’s set out to do, and it does it well. The illustrations by Jack Katz add an unexpected but nice touch of visualization to the story.
Overall, at only 80 pages long, there’s really no reason not to read The Last Machine in the Solar System. It’s a lunchtime read that will give you discussion fodder for afterward.