George Simling has grown up in the city-state of Illyria, an enclave of logic and reason founded as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism that swept away the nations of the 21st century. Yet to George, Illyria's militant rationalism is as close-minded and stifling as the faith-based superstition that dominates the world outside its walls. For George has fallen in love with Lucy. A prostitute. A robot. She might be a machine, but the semblance of life is perfect. And beneath her good looks and real human skin, her seductive, sultry, sluttish software is simmering on the edge of consciousness. To the city authorities robot sentience is a malfunction, curable by periodically erasing and resetting silicon minds. Simple maintenance, no real problem, it’s only a machine. But it’s a problem for George, he knows that Lucy is something more.
Chris Beckett is a university lecturer living in Cambridge. He has written over 20 short stories, many of them originally published in Interzone and Asimov's. In 2009 he won the Edge Hill Short Story competition for his collection of stories, The Turing Test.
©2013 Chris Beckett (P)2013 Audible Ltd
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"The trouble with SF"
The book is quite remarkable until the great escape scene. Afterwards it turns to be a dull manga written by a mad japanese teenager. The author moves seemingly uncomfortably in his world and has no patience to go on describing the very unlikely scenes one after another. I kept on listening exclusively for the brilliant narrator but all in all it was a total waste of time.
You see, this is the trouble with SF. Human mind is perhaps unable to create alien worlds or future scenarios for ours own without making incoherencies. This novel is full of logical twists and weak details, it falls apart at the first breeze. I always experience a childish aspect of SF novels, which means not playfulness but inmaturity. Or you accept the fact of finding a not perfectly imagined world as a scene and go on dealing with it or stop reading SF. I will do stop listening SF for the rest of my life. Not for Chris Beckett, I swear. But this book helped me a lot not to try again.
"Narrator made this for me"
Huge range of voices, all exceptionally well done. Loved every minute.
The story was pretty great too.
"Good time girl makes good. (sort of)"
This is a debut novel from a writer who has honed his craft with short stories and though this could be considered a novella nonetheless it deals with deep and important themes. The nature of self, the role of religion in society, can indeed humankind do without religion (it would seem not....even the resolutely secular society of Illyria has made a religion of it's secularness), maternal love or the lack of it, sexual attraction versus a more deep seated love or affection. I found the presentation and drift of the story clunky at times but didn't let that detract from an important book. The narrator's point of view means that sometimes the listener is taken down alleys that may not seem important at first but with reflection prove influential on the tale. There was slightly too much in the way of travelogue details however I think it's the sign of a good author that I feel affection and concern about a machine.
I compare this book to Chris Beckett's second novel "Dark Eden" which again dealt with similar themes though showed more maturity and roundedness. Again the nature of religion is dealt with in the later book, though he explores more the beginnings of patriarchy on belief.
I gasped with horror when Lucy met her 'end', the thought that I would hear no more of her was sorrowful as I'd got to like her.
I look forward to more of Chris Beckett's novels. He deals with big and important themes, themes which are relevant to all of us, regardless of whether we 'believe' in a religion or not. This is important stuff.
"history turns full cirlce"
fast pace, good narration, excellent tale, the idea of A.I. becoming truly sentient is not new but well thought through
the holy machine
more of a moral tale really
"SF as it used to be!"
I really enjoyed this. It was a good, solid story with some interesting ruminations on the nature of self awareness and intelligence. This was the first book I've read by Chris Beckett but it won't be the last.
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