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We Are Satellites

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From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them. Everybody's getting one. Val and Julie just want what's best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all. Soon, J From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them. Everybody's getting one. Val and Julie just want what's best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all. Soon, Julie feels mounting pressure at work to get a Pilot to keep pace with her colleagues, leaving Val and Sophie part of the shrinking minority of people without the device. Before long, the implications are clear, for the family and society: get a Pilot or get left behind. With government subsidies and no downside, why would anyone refuse? And how do you stop a technology once it's everywhere? Those are the questions Sophie and her anti-Pilot movement rise up to answer, even if it puts them up against the Pilot's powerful manufacturer and pits Sophie against the people she loves most.


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From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them. Everybody's getting one. Val and Julie just want what's best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all. Soon, J From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them. Everybody's getting one. Val and Julie just want what's best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all. Soon, Julie feels mounting pressure at work to get a Pilot to keep pace with her colleagues, leaving Val and Sophie part of the shrinking minority of people without the device. Before long, the implications are clear, for the family and society: get a Pilot or get left behind. With government subsidies and no downside, why would anyone refuse? And how do you stop a technology once it's everywhere? Those are the questions Sophie and her anti-Pilot movement rise up to answer, even if it puts them up against the Pilot's powerful manufacturer and pits Sophie against the people she loves most.

30 review for We Are Satellites

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Visionary, scary, realistic, dark, original , mind bending, extra smart, well researched, unique, extraordinary! This book reminds you of the importance of reading more sci-fi novels to understand your present lives and prepare yourselves about what the future may bring to you! It has sophisticated approach to the brain enhancing technology with four different voices! We’re introduced to lovely and concerning couple Val and Julie who always think what’s best for their children : David and Sop Visionary, scary, realistic, dark, original , mind bending, extra smart, well researched, unique, extraordinary! This book reminds you of the importance of reading more sci-fi novels to understand your present lives and prepare yourselves about what the future may bring to you! It has sophisticated approach to the brain enhancing technology with four different voices! We’re introduced to lovely and concerning couple Val and Julie who always think what’s best for their children : David and Sophie. A new technology introduced as Pilot is new at everywhere gives you impressive skills and cognitive powers to achieve your goals and the couple’s son David gets interested to have one to be successful at school even though there are always risks about the procedure! On the other hand Sophie has epilepsy so she cannot ever have a pilot! Poor Julie is also pressured to have one because of overwhelming responsibilities and growing competition at work. We just move forward throughout the years and learn how the family of four develop, change against the raising power of pilot technology. Each of them chose to follow different paths! As Val rejects to have one, Julie finally loses the war and reluctantly accepts to get one because of high tension at her work place and interestingly she starts enjoying its advantages. Their children are also having different ideas about the concept: Sophie becomes anti activist against pilots as David enlists the military. This book is not the thought provoking sci-if tells us the advantages and destructive effects of technology in modern people’s lives, it’s also great family drama about how technology affects party of four’s lives, how it builds inner and outer conflicts, how it makes easier our lives as it pulls more barriers around people, how it could break a family apart. It was one of the best reads I’ve recently had with rich, deeply layered characters. I enjoyed each of the voices and agree each of their opinions, learning to consider their different perspectives! I enjoyed the author’s previous work which was about power of music! But I think I loved this one more! I think I can honestly say Ms. Pinsker is one of my favorite sci-fi authors and looking forward to devour her upcoming works delightfully! I’m giving five blazing, brain enhancing, family, changing lives stars! This is not good! This book is freaking fantastic! Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This was an intelligent and thoughtful piece of science fiction that explored the ramifications of introducing brain enhancing technology  Told over multiple perspectives and jumping through time, this story showed the possible long term effects and consequences of this imagined future.  At its core, this was very much a character driven story. The four main characters  were each clearly defined with unique personalities and traits. Each chapter listed the character's name, but it quickl 4.0 Stars This was an intelligent and thoughtful piece of science fiction that explored the ramifications of introducing brain enhancing technology  Told over multiple perspectives and jumping through time, this story showed the possible long term effects and consequences of this imagined future.  At its core, this was very much a character driven story. The four main characters  were each clearly defined with unique personalities and traits. Each chapter listed the character's name, but it quickly became unnecessary to read this header, because I could immediately tell who's perspective I was reading from the context and voice.  I really liked that this novel showcased a diverse "non traditional" family.. The relationship between the new lesbian women was a realistic and honest portrayal of marriage. Likewise, the parent experience felt realistic, as raising they faced the challenges of raising their biological and adopted children.  There was very little action in this novel, yet the narrative still managed to be quite immersive, provides a nuanced analysis of a very possible future. The novel revealed the class discrepancies that would likely arise with the introduction of these kind of brain enhancing devices. What started out as an advantage, quickly would becomes the new normal and anyone without access to the technology would be left behind. From the very beginning, we see how parents must weigh risks and benefits of the technology, worrying their children will be placed at a disadvantage in society without it. Since this book is set in the near future, this is the kind of science fiction that is very accessible to readers new to the genre. The only new technology introduced is the Pilots which were described in simple, understandable ways. Beyond that there was very little world building since it was set so close to the present day. Overall, I really enjoyed this science fiction novel and would recommend it to a wide audience. I think this book will particularly strike a chord with parents who already grapple with the conundrum of trying to do what is best for their children in an ever changing world. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    This is a great read about the dangers of future technologies, scary and visionary in many ways. Pilot is a brain implant that helps people multitask and focus on multiple things at once. Everyone with a pilot has a blue LED on their temple. The book goes into all the various issues that such a device could cause from schools being divided into Pilot classes and nonPilot classes, to workers only being hired if they have it, military recruitment etc. This is all done very well and kept simple by t This is a great read about the dangers of future technologies, scary and visionary in many ways. Pilot is a brain implant that helps people multitask and focus on multiple things at once. Everyone with a pilot has a blue LED on their temple. The book goes into all the various issues that such a device could cause from schools being divided into Pilot classes and nonPilot classes, to workers only being hired if they have it, military recruitment etc. This is all done very well and kept simple by the story being based in and around one family, the chapters alternate between the different family members points of view. The values of honesty and trust are a major theme. Well plotted and well paced, and there’s plenty of ideas to think on. Many of the issues could’ve been taken even further!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    3.5 stars An engaging story about a pervasive new technology that divides people in yet another way. Told from four POVs, We Are Satellites illustrates this division from the internal perspective of a family whose members each have sometimes opposing opinions and are differently affected by the technology used by themselves (or not) and others around them. I thought this was well-written, and Pinsker did a nice job of giving each character a distinctive voice. Especially in the case of Sophie and D 3.5 stars An engaging story about a pervasive new technology that divides people in yet another way. Told from four POVs, We Are Satellites illustrates this division from the internal perspective of a family whose members each have sometimes opposing opinions and are differently affected by the technology used by themselves (or not) and others around them. I thought this was well-written, and Pinsker did a nice job of giving each character a distinctive voice. Especially in the case of Sophie and David, the voices progressed and matured believably from child or teen into young adulthood. I liked the way the very real questions about the differing effects new technology can have on people were tackled. The story lost a bit of strength and fell in rating for me because I felt that the way the company manufacturing the technology was ultimately portrayed allowed the author to take the obvious way out. A subtler framing of the motivations and actions of the company would have been more realistic, and required a slightly more thoughtful and complicated resolution without everything neatly tied up at the end. That said, I enjoyed reading this. It's an enjoyable book for anyone interested in questions about individual challenges and social implications of new technology.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    I wasn't overwhelmed by "Song of a New Day" by the same author, so my expectations were accordingly before I started reading. But this novel worked so much better for me. The characters are well developed and interesting to follow along, the family dynamic is strong, believable and wholesome. And I love the concept that it is not 'us' against 'them', but that the line of discord runs through the family itself. This way both sides get proper reflection without a black-and-white painting. I wasn't overwhelmed by "Song of a New Day" by the same author, so my expectations were accordingly before I started reading. But this novel worked so much better for me. The characters are well developed and interesting to follow along, the family dynamic is strong, believable and wholesome. And I love the concept that it is not 'us' against 'them', but that the line of discord runs through the family itself. This way both sides get proper reflection without a black-and-white painting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    In the near future, a new technology is available that makes your brain able to multitask and work faster. The two moms in the central story are at odds about it but give in when their son begs for one, because his classmates are leaving him behind. They give in, even though it costs all of their savings. While his friends seem to find it easy to adapt to the new stimulation, he is never able to separate himself from "the noise." Not long after, he is recruited by the army, much to his mothers' In the near future, a new technology is available that makes your brain able to multitask and work faster. The two moms in the central story are at odds about it but give in when their son begs for one, because his classmates are leaving him behind. They give in, even though it costs all of their savings. While his friends seem to find it easy to adapt to the new stimulation, he is never able to separate himself from "the noise." Not long after, he is recruited by the army, much to his mothers' chagrin. Their daughter is ineligible because she has frequent seizures, and they are always trying different techniques and medications to deal with her epilepsy. As she gets older, she is more and more excluded as one of only a handful of people her age without the implant. She grows into an activist against the Pilots. This is a deep exploration about new technologies and control from a bunch of different angles, and I found myself thinking about the characters and the different points of views after I finished it, which is why I rated it at 4 instead of 3 stars. I still need to read this author's prescient pandemic novel but this was a good introduction. I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss and NetGalley; it came out May 11th, 2021.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen’s Library

    Well, I finished this book in one day so that tells me I really liked it!! This was a realistic look at futuristic tech that is probably being worked on right now, it just seemed so plausible. Pilots are the wave of the future and everyone has one. This tech is inserted in the wearers temple and it’s connected to the brain which allows the user to multitask on several items at once rather than having to focus on one item at a time. As more and more people get a Pilot, the ones that don’t have th Well, I finished this book in one day so that tells me I really liked it!! This was a realistic look at futuristic tech that is probably being worked on right now, it just seemed so plausible. Pilots are the wave of the future and everyone has one. This tech is inserted in the wearers temple and it’s connected to the brain which allows the user to multitask on several items at once rather than having to focus on one item at a time. As more and more people get a Pilot, the ones that don’t have them fall behind and no longer get the jobs, and are separated into the slower groups at school. To ensure that everyone knows whether you have a Pilot, it comes with a blue light so your prospective employer knows right away whether or not you have a Pilot. Although discrimination isn’t allowed, it’s going on. This story follows Val and Julie, and their two kids, David and Sophie, as they go through the consequences of whether to get Pilots or not. The book is told through their 4 POVs and spans a dozen years as they struggle with normal life but adding in the advantages and disadvantages of Pilots. This was a refreshing look at a sci-fi contemporaryish story of a close knit family and what this new tech does to them. I felt a connection to the entire family and stayed up late last night just to finish. I thought it was well researched and definitely believeable. And it scared me at how plausible this scenario could be. Well done! *Thank you so much to Berkeley Publishing Group and NetGalley for the advance copy!*

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    I loved this book so much that I dreamed about it the night after I finished it! At the start of the book, Julie and Val are trying to decide whether to get a Pilot for their son, David. Pilots are a new technology that allow people to multitask better, and David has been struggling in school. But this is a brain implant, and there are definitely risks involved. Plus Sophie, their daughter, has epilepsy, and she can never have a Pilot. As the Pilots become more ubiquitous, we follow the family t I loved this book so much that I dreamed about it the night after I finished it! At the start of the book, Julie and Val are trying to decide whether to get a Pilot for their son, David. Pilots are a new technology that allow people to multitask better, and David has been struggling in school. But this is a brain implant, and there are definitely risks involved. Plus Sophie, their daughter, has epilepsy, and she can never have a Pilot. As the Pilots become more ubiquitous, we follow the family through the years, seeing them grow and change along with the technology. Sophie becomes an anti-Pilot activist, and Val decides never to get one, while Julie embraces her new productivity. David enlists in the military. As the family navigates the changes in their worlds, they struggle against both interior and exterior conflict until they can no longer ignore the weight of what this tech has done to them. Pinsker does a masterful job of moving between points of view so that this is a true ensemble cast, with the main focus on the family as a unit and how they grow both together and individually. I got to know the characters so well that I didn't want the book to end. The technology and its insidious secrets are the thread moving the story, but the characters are the book's heart. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Di Maitland

    I am so glad I read this book. A number of the situations spoke to me about my own experiences and it was a relief to see them down on paper for the first time. I think a lot of people are going to love this and it'd make a great book club read because it's contemporary and there's lots to discuss. ’What kind of society were they creating where kids voluntarily changed their brains to keep pace with all the input coming at them?’ We Are Satellites follows an American family as they navigate th I am so glad I read this book. A number of the situations spoke to me about my own experiences and it was a relief to see them down on paper for the first time. I think a lot of people are going to love this and it'd make a great book club read because it's contemporary and there's lots to discuss. ’What kind of society were they creating where kids voluntarily changed their brains to keep pace with all the input coming at them?’ We Are Satellites follows an American family as they navigate the perils of society's latest fad technology: the Pilot. Pilots are inserted into the brain in a minor operation and allow true multi-tasking to become a reality. Most love them but some, for health or religious reasons, can't have them and become sidelined; others have them fitted but don’t find the experience to be all it was promised. ’A system in dire need of change, but the wrong change had arrived. The wrong changes were everywhere.’ David is eighteen and an average student at a private high-school. His friends are in the first wave to get Pilots and, without one, David is beginning to fall behind. His mums agree to let him get one fitted but he finds the new level of input overwhelming. His concerns, however, fall on deaf ears and David has to find his own ways to cope. David’s sister Sophie is ten and suffers from epilepsy. They’ve tried one drug after another to manage the seizures but their effectiveness all seem to wear off and a Pilot is out of the question. Soon, Sophie finds herself in a minority, but a friend’s father shows her the power of a voice and a spark is lit within her. ’She ran until her thought no longer lingered on their daughter who didn’t know how to stay, or their boy becoming an adult in a world that demanded so much more from him than she would ever have imagined.’ Val and Julie are Sophie and David’s mums. Val is a teacher uninterested in social fads and determined to show solidarity with her daughter no matter the cost. Julie works for a Congressman and is a technophile - keen for every new gadget and fearful that she’ll fall behind without. In some ways, this is a story of David and Goliath: the little guy against the corporate giant. And yet it’s not quite so clear cut. The Pilots and their creators aren’t evil - they’re just one technology company among many who happen to have developed a product that (almost) everyone wants because of the benefits it brings. Instead, this story is primarily about family and how familial ties are influenced by societal pressure. Over the ten years this book covers, David and Sophie grow and must face the challenges of life post-school; tempers wax and wane, interests come and go, and Val and Julie can only do their best to keep up and balance the competing demands of their own lives. The challenges they face are likely to be those (or very similar to those) that I face in my own life time. Today, parents have to manage the effect of social media on their children. Who knows what we’ll have to contend with in ten years, let alone twenty? All of a sudden, Pilots don’t seem too far-fetched and god knows we all know the pressure to conform. ’Back to the noise nobody else believed, noise that people played at during parties even while saying it’s a nice place but we wouldn’t want to live here. He hate everyone.’ Personally, two elements particularly spoke to me. The first was Sophie’s seizures because I myself suffer seizures (though with more warning) and have had to just soldier on. More deeply though, I felt David’s plight. Again and again he tries to explain the Noise to others, only for them to ignore him or tell him he’s not trying hard enough, that its his own fault. For the five years before I was diagnosed with FND, people treated me the same way: “it’s all in your head”, “just relax”, “you’re attention seeking”. I almost believed it. Now they know better, now I know better, but it was a tough time and made me empathise all the better with David. In general, this book is hugely representative. It features an LGBT+ married couple and two non-binary secondary characters. Amongst other things, it deals with PTSD, addiction, discrimination, disability and adoption. Furthermore, these topics are handled with finesse and understanding. Why then did I not give it five stars? After all, the writing is superb and the story nuanced. Honestly, it’s my fault, not the book’s. I like a bit more optimism and a bit more heroism in my books. The story ends on a high note but covers some tough ground which meant that, sometimes, I just wasn’t in the mood to read it. Meanwhile, whilst their journeys are interesting, the characters are just normal people - deftly crafted but a far cry from my usual kick-ass heroines (though Sophie certainly has some spunk). Would I recommend this book? Yes, but bear in mind it’s more contemporary fiction than science fiction (ie. no robots or spaceships). It’s very well written and will speak to a number of people’s fears for the future of technology. Would I read it again? No, but I would read more by Pinsker now. Is it likely to be nominated for an award in the future? Definitely.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Misha (Heartsfullofreads)

    This was an incredibly thought provoking read. I liked that the author had a family of four who all had different views on a pilot. The pilot meant something different to each of them and their voices were so strong. I have never read anything quite like David's chapters and the author did wonderful capturing his thoughts and his feelings. I especially liked looking into the future where gender wasn't assumed and everyone was able to live their truth peacefully. This was an incredibly thought provoking read. I liked that the author had a family of four who all had different views on a pilot. The pilot meant something different to each of them and their voices were so strong. I have never read anything quite like David's chapters and the author did wonderful capturing his thoughts and his feelings. I especially liked looking into the future where gender wasn't assumed and everyone was able to live their truth peacefully.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jayyn

    🔊🔊🔊🔊 (four stars as rated in all the noise in your mind that never ever stops) When Val and Julie’s son David comes home from school asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant that improves brain function, they reluctantly agree. The doctors all assure them it’s safe and, with the new technology becoming commonplace, more kids at David’s school have them than do not. But with the many benefits of the Pilot come downsides as well. What of Sophie, David’s younger sister who has epilepsy and whose brai 🔊🔊🔊🔊 (four stars as rated in all the noise in your mind that never ever stops) When Val and Julie’s son David comes home from school asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant that improves brain function, they reluctantly agree. The doctors all assure them it’s safe and, with the new technology becoming commonplace, more kids at David’s school have them than do not. But with the many benefits of the Pilot come downsides as well. What of Sophie, David’s younger sister who has epilepsy and whose brain can not support the technology? What of Val who simply isn’t interested in getting one? Who is really behind the almost overnight success of this life changing science? And how do you fight back against something once it’s everywhere? “We know Pilots don’t make anybody smarter. They don’t teach good study skills. They aren’t a replacement for teachers or books. If a kid is in tenth grade and reading on a third-grade level, he’s not going to magically start comprehending quantum physics or To the Lighthouse just because he has a Pilot . It’s a superficial fix. A bandage for a paper cut on a finger when there’s a sucking chest wound, too.” This is my first Sarah Pinsker novel and it exceeded all of my expectations! The story is one part speculative sci-fi, one part family drama, and one part conspiracy! But what I really, really loved about this novel was how quickly it moved. Everything I knew about the story going into it literally occurs within the first 10 pages! The book just takes off and sustains this fast, engrossing pace throughout. I loved that especially considering the technical nature of the subject matter which could have become very easily bogged down. The arcs of the four main characters were really lovely to read. I appreciate the way this family is illustrated for us and loved getting to see them grow and change. I want to say that Sophie was my favorite character, but when I think about it I don’t know that I could choose between them. They each make mistakes, but we are gifted so much insight into why they all chose to do what they do. And I really enjoyed that. ✨ Rep in this book: Queer MC’s, Neurodivergent MC ✨ Content warnings for this book: thoughts of suicide, drug use, addiction, mentions of war and battle, PTSD, medical stuff, gas-lighting Follow me on: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Storygraph

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    Synopsis: Teacher Val and political staffer Julie are mothers of two children, David and Sophie. They live at a time when a new technology is becoming nearly mandatory for everyone: A brain implant, the Pilot, enhances the ability to multitask. Visible to everyone are the blue lights at the temple. David is the family's first to get one. He enlists for a special military service troop and becomes the poster boy for the product. The other family members are far more reluctant. Julie doesn't want t Synopsis: Teacher Val and political staffer Julie are mothers of two children, David and Sophie. They live at a time when a new technology is becoming nearly mandatory for everyone: A brain implant, the Pilot, enhances the ability to multitask. Visible to everyone are the blue lights at the temple. David is the family's first to get one. He enlists for a special military service troop and becomes the poster boy for the product. The other family members are far more reluctant. Julie doesn't want to left behind in her job and has always been affine to the newest gadgets. But then there is Sophie whose epilepsy makes it impossible for a brain implantation. Finally, Val decides to stay on Sophie's side but feels the pressure in school as there are only a couple of students without the Pilot. Sophie goes fully anti-Pilot, joins the local board of a national NGO to organize demonstrations etc. against the product. She is shocked as David joins the "enemy", the producer of the Pilot as a marketing specialist. But David has his own problems with the Pilot, because it works far more intense for him than for everyone else.  Review: The story starts with the wholesome family just before the technology arrives. It's very heartwarming and engaging. But as soon as the technology arrives, shadows appear. Very. slowly.  The novel gets a good while to take off. Which isn't exactly a bad thing, but one needs to sit down and enjoy the slow ride. The following plot is predictable and checks off lots of tropes with technology misuse, young adults out of their safety zone, adults making harsh errors, and a monstrous technology corporation. It doesn't get horrific or bleedingly harsh, so I count it off as a soft dystopia with a happy end.  Recommended for readers of ultralight cyborg technology in a near future SF setting who don't want to get stressed by a rigorous dystopia. 

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This audiobook accompanied me back and forth to work and did a nice job of distracting me from the recent passing of my dog, filling my head with the strange Pilot lights and the nearly unbridgable social divide it causes between those who adopt the new technology vs those who don't. It's the new craze - a brain implant that pushes you to the next level, allowing you to truly multitask and split your attention between numerous stimuli at the same time. It begins to separate kids in school and ad This audiobook accompanied me back and forth to work and did a nice job of distracting me from the recent passing of my dog, filling my head with the strange Pilot lights and the nearly unbridgable social divide it causes between those who adopt the new technology vs those who don't. It's the new craze - a brain implant that pushes you to the next level, allowing you to truly multitask and split your attention between numerous stimuli at the same time. It begins to separate kids in school and adults in the workplace. And in We Are Satellites, it also creates a split amongst family members David, who feels himself struggling to keep up in school, and his one mother Julie, who likewise feels pressured to get one to stay relevent at work, leaving his younger sister Sophie and his other mother Val in the increasing minority of those who remain Pilotless (one by choice and the other by medical necessity). A clever spin on the frenzy that's created by new technology and a not-so-subtle warning to those who jump onboard before understanding, or worse... simply not caring... about the potential risks or future implications. It's near-future, character driven sci-fi that'll give you pause and should knock the "what could possibly be the downside" thought right out of your head.

  14. 5 out of 5

    FanFiAddict

    Rating: 8.0/10 Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of We Are Satellites for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions. We Are Satellites is an intriguing novel that explores the impact of futuristic technology at home and abroad. Pinsker introduces a character-driven story that nails a “family first” mentality with the complications of being left behind in a constantly progressing society. While We Are Satellites is not a normal go-to type novel Rating: 8.0/10 Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of We Are Satellites for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions. We Are Satellites is an intriguing novel that explores the impact of futuristic technology at home and abroad. Pinsker introduces a character-driven story that nails a “family first” mentality with the complications of being left behind in a constantly progressing society. While We Are Satellites is not a normal go-to type novel for me, I really enjoyed the entire read. Pinsker has a knack for writing characters that are relatable and you can completely empathize with, on top of providing very interesting premise. Much like our world today, if you aren’t keeping up with the technology trends at a steady pace, you can get left in the dust fairly quickly. I enjoyed how each chapter provided multiple POVs between David, Sophie, Val & Julie. While the chapter headers were a nice add, you quickly became familiar with each distinctive voice fairly early on. I love how each character stood out from the pack, and their strengths and weaknesses were laid bare for all to see. The idea behind the ‘Pilot’ is fantastic, and while I’m not sure having a device implanted on the side of my noggin is the best way to go, I can see why so many people would be chomping at the bit. So many times during a workday, I find myself wandering for other things to do as my mind constantly attempts to figure out how to get everything needing done, well, done. I became quickly enthralled with David’s character (and no, NOT because it is also my name you silly gooses), but because from very early on, my heart just went out to him. I felt like no-one really wanted to listen to what he had to say, then he joins the military (soft spot there), attempts to reorient himself with society and realizes it is more difficult than he imagined. At least it ends on a good note, which I’m not sure I would’ve been in as good a mood talking to Sarah had it not LOL. I really enjoyed We Are Satellites, and if you are looking for a futuristic, character-driven sci-fi novel with more heart than lasers, check it out. I also recommend the audio if you’d rather take that route. Bernadette Dunne did a phenomenal job capturing the true essence of each character.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Excellent writing/reading, as expected from Sarah Pinsker, who has become one of my favorites. This book was not my favorite of hers, but I still like it a lot. It reminds me of some of Cory Doctorow's books with the political message, but the evil of the corporation in this one is maybe not quite as extreme. In fact, I don't think the evil is explained, or developed, or something, enough. The anti-technology group kind of maybe stumbles over it, or extrapolates what it might be, and then it tur Excellent writing/reading, as expected from Sarah Pinsker, who has become one of my favorites. This book was not my favorite of hers, but I still like it a lot. It reminds me of some of Cory Doctorow's books with the political message, but the evil of the corporation in this one is maybe not quite as extreme. In fact, I don't think the evil is explained, or developed, or something, enough. The anti-technology group kind of maybe stumbles over it, or extrapolates what it might be, and then it turns out to be exactly that plus more. Each of the characters, a family of four, has their own voice, separated into their own chapters. That is done well; each is pretty believable and likable (and exasperating), as is the complicated family dynamic. I especially liked the daughter, Sophie, though at times she was the most exasperating one - inescapable with a teenager/young adult.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Let me preface this by saying there are a lot of strong things about this book. There are people who will really enjoy this, for very valid reasons. It's rock solid on concept. Pinsker imagines a society going through a sudden and foundational upheaval due to the rapid adoption of a piece of technology that promises better attention, focus, multi-tasking and productivity. And then she imagines the many nuanced impacts, intentional and unintentional. She talks about the people who, due to choice o Let me preface this by saying there are a lot of strong things about this book. There are people who will really enjoy this, for very valid reasons. It's rock solid on concept. Pinsker imagines a society going through a sudden and foundational upheaval due to the rapid adoption of a piece of technology that promises better attention, focus, multi-tasking and productivity. And then she imagines the many nuanced impacts, intentional and unintentional. She talks about the people who, due to choice or means or medical condition, can't get the implant. In a world where the bar for productivity is driven by whether or not you have a blue light flashing at your temple, what about the people left behind? How would that impact their chances of getting a job, or getting scholarships, or keeping up to their classmates in school? Access to technology is a real source of class stratification. We know this. We see this historically. We also see the breakneck pace of technological advancement in our own society, and access to those advancements is often far from even. So Pinsker's exploration--this idea of technological second-class citizens--is a very worthy and timely conversation. Equal to that, there are a long list of examples of what happens when advancement outruns regulation, and how hard that can sometimes be to reel in. Again, good concept worthy of being explored. I even liked the structure. I liked how the author used this family to explore those different scenarios. I thought it wove together really well. But for all that--all these things that should tick every box on my checklist--I didn't enjoy reading this. There were parts where I got into it (in particular, I had good periods during the chapters from the kids' POV in the second half of the book) but, for the most part, I really struggled with the style. To me, a lot of the sections came across as dispassionate, particularly during dialogue, and it made it really hard for me to connect emotionally with the characters. There often wasn't a lot of detail on body language or tone or internal thought process, and I felt like I needed more of that to bring some of those dialogues alive. There's one point where the parents end a conversation and they both had tears in their eyes and all I can think was, "really? because I wasn't getting that from either of you til now." I appreciate that the author went out of her way to create parental characters that are emotionally mature and supportive, but during some of those emotionally fraught conversations, I would have liked to see some internal struggle, not before or after, but actually during the dialogue. I would have liked to see the moment of instinctual anger before the character clamps down and makes that emotionally mature response. Instead, the result was often flat for me. Who it is for If you normally don't like lyrical writing, this could be for you. The style is very matter of fact. Likewise, I think people who listened to this on audiobook will really like this, for the very reasons that I didn't like in print. The style does seem half-way to a script, and a lot of the tone that I was missing in the dialogue could easily get filled in by a narrator. Finally, there are some younger readers that might really appreciate this. It's very readable, and the concepts are just as valid for a Grade 5 or 6 student as they are for adults. So there definitely is an audience for this, but in the form I read it, it wasn't for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I... liked this. I think it's more 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because I'm a fan of the author. I don't know why the story didn't really click with me. I didn't particularly like the ending, but it also felt like the natural way for it to all wrap up. So maybe it's just that it didn't work for me personally, and other readers will find it perfect. I... liked this. I think it's more 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because I'm a fan of the author. I don't know why the story didn't really click with me. I didn't particularly like the ending, but it also felt like the natural way for it to all wrap up. So maybe it's just that it didn't work for me personally, and other readers will find it perfect.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Graculus

    We Are Satellites is one of those books which is barely SF at all, being pretty much a modern day story with a little added technology that doesn't exist (yet, at least) and then exploring the repercussions of that, for a single family and society as a whole. The basic premise of the book is that a company has invented a piece of hardware (the Pilot) you can have implanted into your brain which will give you the ability to truly multitask. This quickly becomes a requisite, with employers refusin We Are Satellites is one of those books which is barely SF at all, being pretty much a modern day story with a little added technology that doesn't exist (yet, at least) and then exploring the repercussions of that, for a single family and society as a whole. The basic premise of the book is that a company has invented a piece of hardware (the Pilot) you can have implanted into your brain which will give you the ability to truly multitask. This quickly becomes a requisite, with employers refusing to take on anyone who doesn't have it and schools putting the students who won't or can't have it into remedial classes. The latter include people with epilepsy, like one of the members of the family whose life afterwards we explore - Sophie's experiences in school as a permanent outsider eventually leads her to become involved in anti-Pilot activism. As a family, various attitudes to the new technology are covered. One of the parents has chosen to embrace it, fearing that she will be left behind in her job if she doesn't, the other (a teacher) has actively rejected the technology and finds herself only able to teach those students without it. This is partly a situation of her own making, after an embarrassing meltdown at her former school with a military recruiter, partly caused by her ambivalence about the news that their son is joining the Army. In many ways, the children are the focus of this novel. David has the biggest journey, going from a teenage boy embracing his Pilot in hopes it will help him keep up with everyone else, only to discover that he's having problems with it that nobody else seems to have. After leaving the Army, he's headhunted by the company responsible for the Pilots, who want him to be their literal poster boy. As he goes on, David becomes more disillusioned by the choices he's made and sets a train of events in motion. All in all, if you like fairly low-key SF, this might be the book for you. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as enamoured with it and found myself skimming towards the two-thirds point. In general, the pacing was a bit uneven, as the middle part of the book seemed to drag and then the last couple of chapters felt very rushed. The ending in particular also felt a little pat, as if the author felt they needed to tie everything up neatly and, in my experience at least, the real world isn't like that. So, not my cup of tea but I'm sure it's going to be a great book for someone else who likes this kind of SF that's close to the present day. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I enjoyed this, although it ended up being more of a family drama than I was expecting. I thought the introduction to a new technology was realistically done, but I thought the conclusions about the technology were too simplistic. It felt like the book wanted us to believe this was a black and white issue. It feels like the way people talk about social media as being all bad or all good. Things can be both, and a look into that would've felt more nuanced and interesting. I enjoyed this, although it ended up being more of a family drama than I was expecting. I thought the introduction to a new technology was realistically done, but I thought the conclusions about the technology were too simplistic. It felt like the book wanted us to believe this was a black and white issue. It feels like the way people talk about social media as being all bad or all good. Things can be both, and a look into that would've felt more nuanced and interesting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda Snow

    2.5 stars, but rounded up because I became interested in the family around which the story revolves. The first quarter of the book had me so excited as I was incorrectly thinking it was going to be twisted somehow in a good way. It wasn’t, so don’t expect any twists whatsoever. But if you’re looking for a nice family’s encounter with the newest high tech available in what could be the present timeline, you may enjoy it much more than I did. For me, it’s basically a repeat of the same routine str 2.5 stars, but rounded up because I became interested in the family around which the story revolves. The first quarter of the book had me so excited as I was incorrectly thinking it was going to be twisted somehow in a good way. It wasn’t, so don’t expect any twists whatsoever. But if you’re looking for a nice family’s encounter with the newest high tech available in what could be the present timeline, you may enjoy it much more than I did. For me, it’s basically a repeat of the same routine struggles every family goes through with new tech, including glitches.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    DNF at 66% -- Do not like the narrative or the message of the book and have decided, in a rare moment of self-indulgence -- to just quit reading it instead of forcing myself to finish something I will rate poorly. If there's one thing I can't stand, it is reading adult books with children having a huge part of the narrative voice. I didn't like the characters and the "activism" and the very slow moving story. DNF at 66% -- Do not like the narrative or the message of the book and have decided, in a rare moment of self-indulgence -- to just quit reading it instead of forcing myself to finish something I will rate poorly. If there's one thing I can't stand, it is reading adult books with children having a huge part of the narrative voice. I didn't like the characters and the "activism" and the very slow moving story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Koeeoaddi

    Perfectly rendered cautionary tale featuring four characters the reader gets to know very well. The book did not go in the direction I assumed it would at all and in not doing so told a more subtle, imaginative and compelling story. I'll remember this one. Perfectly rendered cautionary tale featuring four characters the reader gets to know very well. The book did not go in the direction I assumed it would at all and in not doing so told a more subtle, imaginative and compelling story. I'll remember this one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Pinsker, Sarah. We Are Satellites. Berkley, 2021. We Are Satellites poses a near-future social problem: what if corporate America produced a slightly buggy brain implant that improved mental productivity in most people but made a few others miserable? The company that makes the implant called Pilot does what early PC companies did—get school kids hooked on them and make them essential in the workplace. Pinsker focuses on one family, a same-sex couple with two teenage children. One partner wants t Pinsker, Sarah. We Are Satellites. Berkley, 2021. We Are Satellites poses a near-future social problem: what if corporate America produced a slightly buggy brain implant that improved mental productivity in most people but made a few others miserable? The company that makes the implant called Pilot does what early PC companies did—get school kids hooked on them and make them essential in the workplace. Pinsker focuses on one family, a same-sex couple with two teenage children. One partner wants the implant. The other doesn’t. One kid gets the implant but has problems with it. The other can’t get it because she is epileptic. All four characters are well-drawn, and the story shows the kind of stress that this piece of first-gen tech could produce on individual middleclass citizens and their families. Getting to know the family takes a while, which means that the novel starts more slowly than one might like. That didn’t bother me much, but the social drama would have been more nuanced if the corporate villains were made as human as our protagonists. If you liked Pinsker’s treatment of pandemic in A Song for a New Day, you will probably like her approach to the social impact of new tech in this one. Just a tad under four stars from me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    3.5 stars (3.25? Idk), but rounding up because the last third of the book hit me pretty hard. This feels like it would have been a really popular literary book if the prose was better, because the characters and their reactions and emotions are very complex and realistic, but in order to be enthusiastic about a full novel of meandering emotional experiences it generally has to be enjoyable to read on a line by line level, which this just isn't imo. I did love the exploration of technology though 3.5 stars (3.25? Idk), but rounding up because the last third of the book hit me pretty hard. This feels like it would have been a really popular literary book if the prose was better, because the characters and their reactions and emotions are very complex and realistic, but in order to be enthusiastic about a full novel of meandering emotional experiences it generally has to be enjoyable to read on a line by line level, which this just isn't imo. I did love the exploration of technology though, and as someone with sensory perception issues, I really connected with David's inability to explain his "noise" and the reactions he gets from others regarding it. Overall, there are some great characters and concepts in here, but the combination of weak prose and meandering plot doesn't support them as well as I'd hoped.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Gentile

    Guaranteed to fill the Black Mirror-shaped hole in your heart!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Ideiosepius

    4 1/2 stars This was a very nicely written book with good characters and a good plot which explores the adoption of new technology, how fashions and fads can work to promote such technology and the potential for people to be left behind by society. Set a little bit in the future -maybe only a tiny bit- we have a society in which families with two moms and no dad are completely unremarkable (a fact that I think should be right NOW, but sadly we are not quite there). Our protagonists are a normal fa 4 1/2 stars This was a very nicely written book with good characters and a good plot which explores the adoption of new technology, how fashions and fads can work to promote such technology and the potential for people to be left behind by society. Set a little bit in the future -maybe only a tiny bit- we have a society in which families with two moms and no dad are completely unremarkable (a fact that I think should be right NOW, but sadly we are not quite there). Our protagonists are a normal family, Val and Julie, raising two children one in high-school, one a few years younger. The story really starts when the older child, David begs his mothers for a pilot. The pilot is new technology, a brain implant with a cool blue light that helps people become more organised, more able to multitask and more efficient. David needs it, he says to keep up with the other students. The attitudes of the two mothers is different and sets the tone of the novel, pro and con, yet mutually supportive. Val, a teacher, is horrified by the implications, at the idea of a brain implant and as the younger child, Sophie has seizures she is concerned by unneeded, new surgical procedures. And they are new, they have appeared out of nowhere and seem to be taking over. The other mother, Julie, feels differently. She is attracted to the new tech, she works for a local politician and likes the idea of multitasking better. In the end, David gets his implant. The other thing that points to this society as being a tiny bit in the future is that it is both common and polite to introduce yourself by your name and your chosen pronoun. Other than these two, fairly small details it could be today, I think. Economically the haves and havenots seemed very seperated, especially in terms of education, but I think that may be consistent with modern America, where this is set, so I am not sure if that is meant to be futuristic. Now, I do not want to say to much about the plot, we have the two sides to the same family: Davids story with his pilot and Julie who eventually gets one so as not to lose her edge at work. While the other side is Sophie's story as one of the growing minority who cannot have one and Val who stubbornly refuses to get one, these become the people who are marginalised and discriminated against for not having a pilot. Of course, the dynamic tension of this novel is the pilots themselves; is everything as it seems (of course not). Are there side effects and repercussion that the company is not telling anyone about? It is a fun book to read, the protagonists are all engaging, the book itself is well plotted and well written. The society and the social issues are well fleshed out, the questions that are being asked of the characters and the reader about inclusiveness and marginalisation are well integrated into the plot. One thing I am not sure about, is this meant to be YA or not? It could be, but it is not stated, just wondering. I like books that make you think, which this one does. Also, I feel that is you want to postulate a society in which things are different (same sex parenting in a nuclear family, for example) one of the best ways to do that is by creating good fiction in which that society is the norm. This book does these things very ably.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lani

    This is more than just a science-fiction tale, it's a character-driven story about a loving family, a story about changing technology and values, about discrimination and conforming/nonconforming, understanding that knowledge is power and standing up for yourself and others. Very well written characters with chapters enabling each one to tell their own POV. It flows very well. The voice of each is easily distinguished and all are likeable in their own ways. Every individual adds important narrat This is more than just a science-fiction tale, it's a character-driven story about a loving family, a story about changing technology and values, about discrimination and conforming/nonconforming, understanding that knowledge is power and standing up for yourself and others. Very well written characters with chapters enabling each one to tell their own POV. It flows very well. The voice of each is easily distinguished and all are likeable in their own ways. Every individual adds important narrative to the collective story. This is the first book I've read in a long time where I was genuinely connected to all the characters in their complexity and felt I understood them and cared about them, even with their differing points of view. While the main focus is on brain technology called Pilot that seems very realistic, it's also notable how much of the story is about family dynamics, the love, care, support and fears they have for each other and themselves. Each person has their own opinions or experiences with Pilots which makes them act and react differently. Some are ready to forge ahead, others are more cautious, some untrusting, others are unable to have a Pilot for underlying medical reasons. As happens so often IRL, we learn there are repercussions to adopting technology so readily and question our ability to see long term potential pitfalls. I could envision this as a very real possibility in the future where there would be so many unknowns and very little regulation on devices which could affect your brain. Of course the government gets involved which makes for some thought provoking controversy and activism. Really enjoyed this book and highly recommend for anyone who enjoys sci-fi with believable technology and futuristic lifestyles.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tzu-Mainn Chen

    A family is split when a new brain-enhancing technology called the Pilot is introduced to the world. The teenage son fears getting left behind as an increasing number of his classmates obtain one; the young daughter can’t get one due to her intermittent seizures. One mother views the device as nothing but beneficial; the other harbors concerns regarding an unproven technology and fears of a society that may grow to discriminate against her Pilot-less daughter. “We are Satellites” tells the story A family is split when a new brain-enhancing technology called the Pilot is introduced to the world. The teenage son fears getting left behind as an increasing number of his classmates obtain one; the young daughter can’t get one due to her intermittent seizures. One mother views the device as nothing but beneficial; the other harbors concerns regarding an unproven technology and fears of a society that may grow to discriminate against her Pilot-less daughter. “We are Satellites” tells the story of this family, their choices, and the myriad of consequences that spiral out of their decisions. I picked the book up because I loved Pinsker’s short story collection “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” and hoped that her novel would evoke similar emotions. Unfortunately it fell short for me. Part of the reason is the writing style. Pinsker writes in (mostly) short 2-3 page chapters that rotate among each family member’s point of view. This technique gives each chapter dramatic punch and ensures that each scene has an exciting volatility. However it also has the consequence of defining each character by their extremes. In doing so, they began to feel less like people and more like vehicles for plot. This feeling intensified when I reached the end of the book; the ending felt pat, lacking the delicious emotional yearning of Pinsker’s short stories. There’s still a bunch I liked about “We Are Satellites”, especially the author’s penchant for observational humor. There’s just a lot missing compared to her amazing short stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Two members of a family decide to get a Pilot implanted in their brain to help their ability to focus and multitask and the other two do not. This was a very entertaining story. It talked about family - what happens if some of you do something that the others would spend the last breath in their body screaming against? Do you stay friends (you're stuck with staying family)? It talks about peer pressure - if there's a new tech gadget that everyone's getting, don't you have to get it, too? I loved Two members of a family decide to get a Pilot implanted in their brain to help their ability to focus and multitask and the other two do not. This was a very entertaining story. It talked about family - what happens if some of you do something that the others would spend the last breath in their body screaming against? Do you stay friends (you're stuck with staying family)? It talks about peer pressure - if there's a new tech gadget that everyone's getting, don't you have to get it, too? I loved the discussions in this book about how people who choose to not get a Pilot starting to get discriminated against. The 'regular' brain is no longer good enough, even if you're smart and a hard-worker. In this book, one of the moms of the family is a teacher. She eventually gets relegated to the 'non-Pilot' classrooms that are formed. The daughter has epilepsy and cannot get a Pilot. The son signs right in and uses it to help him survive military duty. The other mom loves its ability to help her multi-task in a political job. Their relationship strains to deal with all these differences in a very realistic way. Excellent book! I've been thinking about reading Sarah Pinsker's "A Song for a New Day" and reading this increases the probability.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    A contemporary story with near future science fiction elements. It had all the feels and I really cared about the characters.

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