Date of Award


Call Number

PS3612.I33528 H42 2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

James Patrick Kelly


Stonecoast MFA, science fiction, young adult fiction, dystopian, technology, consciousness, artificial intelligence


Rion lives as a roach in the down-below, sharing what little she has with other kids in need. An encounter with a dead body leaves her with what seems like someone else's memories in her head--Obsidian, one of the synthetic humanoid Protectors who battle against unknown, inhuman invaders. Rion's everyday struggle to survive and keep her friends safe is complicated by this unfamiliar, unwanted presence. As she searches for a cure or at least an explanation, she comes to the attention of different powers at play who want access to Obsidian's memories, at any cost. Soon she is fighting not only for her own life but for the rights of the Protectors, the freedom of the down-below, and the future of the colony. Other lives become tangled with Rion's: Deah, a former roach turned bounty hunter who wants nothing more than to climb further from the down-below; Len, a senator's son intent on inciting rebellion in the down-below; and Cobalt, Obsidian's lover, a Protector fleeing the threat of being decommissioned. Heart of the Machine is a young adult science fiction novel exploring sentience, identity, and what it means to be alive.