A Novel

Hardcover, 303 pages

English language

Published Sept. 19, 2017 by Tor Books.

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5 stars (1 review)

Autonomous features a rakish female pharmaceutical pirate named Jack who traverses the world in her own submarine. A notorious anti-patent scientist who has styled herself as a Robin Hood heroine fighting to bring cheap drugs to the poor, Jack’s latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses across what used to be North America—a drug that compels people to become addicted to their work.

On Jack’s trail are an unlikely pair: an emotionally shut-down military agent and his partner, Paladin, a young military robot, who fall in love against all expectations. Autonomous alternates between the activities of Jack and her co-conspirators, and Elias and Paladin, as they all race to stop a bizarre drug epidemic that is tearing apart lives, causing trains to crash, and flooding New York City.

2 editions

Another wonderful one ...

5 stars

Loved The Terraformers, so picked up Autonomous. I liked the former more, but it was such a high bar that Autonomous was still excellent. Different, though related themes. Terraformers is environmental where Autonomous is health care / pharmaceutical, but both tell deeply compelling future narratives about attempts to create survival and thriving in the face of terrible, dystopian, and yet believable futures. Appreciate wrestling with parallels between human freedoms and post-human freedoms, with both taking place in the context of capitalism that is recognizable today... On to Newitz's next work.


  • Drugs--Side effects--Fiction.
  • Drugs--Fiction.
  • Robots--Fiction.
  • Scientists--Fiction.
  • Smugglers--Fiction.