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The Holy Machine | [Chris Beckett]

The Holy Machine

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say


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  • Caroline
    WELSHPOOL, United Kingdom
    3/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good time girl makes good. (sort of)"
    What did you like most about The Holy Machine?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Holy Machine to, and why?

    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.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Enfield, United Kingdom
    11/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "history turns full cirlce"
    What made the experience of listening to The Holy Machine the most enjoyable?

    fast pace, good narration, excellent tale, the idea of A.I. becoming truly sentient is not new but well thought through


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Holy Machine?

    the holy machine


    Which character – as performed by John Banks – was your favourite?

    Lucy


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    more of a moral tale really

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Rik
    Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
    6/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "SF as it used to be!"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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