Casaverde is a habitat for wildlife, featuring many species that are extinct on their native planets. However, a recent malaria outbreak has reduced the volunteers that have maintained the habitat to just two members: our main character Andrew and a half-crazed technician named Rannon. Due to Rannon's inability to work, because of his psychological state after the outbreak, Andrew is finding it impossible to maintain the Casaverde he's loved and worked for in the past 8 years.
So he purchases three synthetic life forms that were destined to be scraped. Synthetics seem to be composed of three components: an outer armor, a neural "sheath" that covers the third biological component - usually a human or some other animal species. One of the synthetics, AK-0019, is of the human variety.
Feral Machines is an escapist's dream come true. Ginn Hale does a masterful job in presenting something familiar enough for us to imagine (i.e. a habitat for wildlife and diseases, like malaria), but infusing enough science fiction details to make it original (i.e. synthetic life forms and new species of animals and plant life). The writing, while not as lyrical as her other works (such as [b:Wicked Gentlemen|1636228|Wicked Gentlemen (Hells Below)|Ginn Hale|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1387746186s/1636228.jpg|1630464]), is still good-ol' classic Ginn Hale goodness.
Her characters (both Andrew and the synthetics) were engaging, especially the two BZs (the other synthetic life forms Andrew purchased). There were some conflicts that occur with Casaverde - some political, some Rannon-induced problems, but most of it was ethical. Such as the purchase of synthetics, as they don't normally have a will of their own.
This novella isn't an action-packed thriller and there is no sex. It's pretty tepid in terms of conflict, but the story is well written, the world is well constructed, and the characters were a treat to read about. Everything also comes to a satisfactory conclusion.
I just only wished I read this story earlier!