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Machines Like Me

by Ian McEwan

Historical Fiction Modern and Classic Literary Fiction Sci-Fi and Fantasy

LoveReading View on Machines Like Me

In the author’s alternate 1980s Britain (which he parallels with the current political climate), Britain has lost the Falklands War, Thatcher is fighting for her political life as Tony Benn’s socialism engenders feverish devotion from young voters, and the country is on the verge of leaving Europe. Alongside these tides of change Alan Turing has created a small quantity of expensive, advanced artificial humans called Adams and Eves. Enter our drifter protagonist, 32-year-old Charlie Friend, who blows most of his inheritance on an Adam. He and his younger girlfriend Miranda share in Adam’s co-creation, both of them having a hand in determining Adam’s personality. The first of many challenges come when Adam and Miranda have sex, which leaves Charlie angry and humiliated: “He was a bipedal vibrator and I was the very latest in cuckolds”. And then Adam betrays Miranda, revealing to Charlie that she’s been lying to him. Moral dilemmas and existential questions abound when it seems that Adam is in love with Miranda in a very human sense, a love that’s partly exhibited through his penning of thousands of heartfelt love haikus.

Alongside the oft-explored questions around sentience and what it means to be human, this often entertaining novel provokes fresh thought through Miranda’s complicated, tragic past, the characters’ complex current love triangle, and the future she and Charlie might forge for themselves.

Joanne Owen

Machines Like Me Synopsis

Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding.

Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda's assistance, he co-designs Adam's personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever - a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma. Ian McEwan's subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions: what makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control.

Machines Like Me Press Reviews

Compelling... unforgettably strange... there are many pleasures and many moments of profound disquiet in this book, which reminds you of its author's mastery of the underrated craft of storytelling... [Machines Like Me] is morally complex and very disturbing, animated by a spirit of sinister and intelligent mischief that feels unique to its author. -- Marcel Theroux - Guardian

[Machines Like Me] traverses the muddled morality of Artificial Intelligence... This is new and exciting ground for McEwan, one of Britain's most consistently brilliant writers. -- Olivia Ovenden - Harper's Bazaar,The Books We Can't Wait To Read In 2019*

Ian McEwan's latest novel, Machines Like Me, is a topsy-turvy tour de force. - Evening Standard

Ian McEwan has always been a generous writer to his readers, his novels bulging with big ideas and rich story-telling... [it's] hard not to admire the sheer scale of McEwan's ambition. Many literary novels claim to be exploring `what it is to be human'. Few carry out this exploration as thoroughly, or as literally, as [Machines Like Me] does. - Daily Mail

The novel is as honed and well constructed as one would expect from McEwan... a sleek and streamlined work by a master technician. -- Jonathan Barnes - Literary Review

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781787331679
Publication date: 18/04/2019
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781787331679
Publication date: 18th April 2019
Author: Ian McEwan
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Science fiction, Historical fiction,

About Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement and Saturday.

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