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The Illyrian government assures the people there is no problem. The SE robots just need more maintenance in the form of a six monthly memory wipe.


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This horrifies George as he has been noticing signs of sentience in Lucy for months and trying to nurture it. He is left little choice but to steal the robot he has fallen for and flee into the unwelcoming outside world.

It was a great story. George was easy to root for despite being a far from perfect guy. Beckett's take on artificial intelligence was fantastic and perfectly plausible as was his take on virtual reality worlds and how they are likely to be used. The book delved into a whole bunch of current issues such as immigration, religious fundamentalism, militant rationalism, love, and loneliness, but the themes that caught my interest most were those that touched on just what exactly it meant to be human and what role the body, and the way we perceive it, plays on the consciousness and on our emotional responses.

This is just the sort of sci-fi story I love reading. Rating: 5 stars. Audio Note: Jonathan Banks did a solid job with the audio version.

Holy Machine - Adonai

View all 5 comments. Chris Beckett's The Holy Machine is short, snappy, and doesn't overstay its welcome. The pilgrimage seems a bit pointless until George Simling finally reveals his motivation. Indeed, George is the weakest part of the novel. I get the feeling he's supposed to be someone that readers can connect with: nerdy, and awkward socially around beautiful women. Yeah, he's more stereotype than archetype. First, he's interested in Marija, but she rejects his date-offer because she's already in a relationship with the head of a new religion.

So then George falls in love with sex worker, Lucy And there are people in the world who want Lucy, and all robots, dead. Later, when Marija's relationship with the religious head is over, she asks out George, but he rejects her out of fear what? The world-building is all too easy to imagine: countries choosing religion over science, and persecuting anyone who doesn't share their particular faith. George lives in Illyria, a country of science, but wars are crossing borderlines, and George is desperate to find a safe place for Lucy. But although he claims to "love" Lucy, George mistreats her. Lucy begins showing signs of self-evolving - i.

And it's then that I pretty much lost all sympathy for George, because he loses sympathy for her. It may say a lot about this book that its most interesting character is not even human.


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Intriguing book with well reasoned concepts that are quite scarily on the verge of being reality, particularly the demonisation of rationalised thinking and the emergence of religion as the dominant force in deciding societal mores. Some elements reminded me of the Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, which is an outstanding book.

This is good, if not quite on the same level.

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There are some genuinely horrifying moments that made me physically squirm. The narrowly disguised entity that is Second Life also fascinated me, as I could quite easily see humankind going down the SenSpace route like Little Rose does. If it was flawed for me, it was partially in the lack of emotional response from the narrator to the events unfolding around him.

...continues

Even when George falls in love, there's a question mark over it's reality. His lack of empathy was quite staggering - this may have been played as a parallel to the nascent evolution of Lucy's'soul' but it didn't quite work for me. I was also a little disgruntled with the ending; it just seemed a bit too easy all round can't say more without posting spoilers.

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Holy Machines

Dec 30, Anna J. View 1 comment. George Simling has grown up in the city-state of Illyria in the Eastern Mediterranean, 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 twenty-first 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 s George Simling has grown up in the city-state of Illyria in the Eastern Mediterranean, 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 twenty-first century.

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, its only a machine. But its a problem for George, he knows that Lucy is something more.

The Holy Machine

His only alternative is to flee Illyria, taking Lucy deep into the religious Outlands where she must pass as human because robots are seen as demonic mockeries of God, burned at the stake, dismembered, crucified. Their odyssey leads through betrayal, war and madness, ending only at the monastery of the Holy Machine What a thought provoking and challenging book this is. On the surface it is standard boy meets robot, falls in love with robot, steals and finally destroys robot.

But very quickly the writer invites you to investigate and reshape your previous ideas and feeling about religion versus science. It is a cautionary tale that zealots belong to both sides and that religion and science are not merely two opposing sides to be chosen and fought for but that they are both essential parts of humanity. People need to believe in something, this novel questions the role of concepts like free will, blind faith, predjudice and racism in human belief. Feb 24, Gavin rated it it was ok Shelves: sci-fi , romance.

Really peculiar book. It started out strong-but-hackneyed, moved into Just Plain Strong territory, then sprinted through all the potentially interesting bits at top belt, instead focussing on endless hand-wringing "answer in the middle" polemic and ended up leaving the reader unable to connect with anyone or feel the import of anything.

Was that the point? The Holy Machine takes place in a "post-apocalyptic"? There has been a Reaction, in wh Really peculiar book. There has been a Reaction, in which the religions of the world rose up as one and inflicted a terrible reprisal on the Rational and their technological creations.

The Holy Machine - an extract from the novel by Chris Beckett

The various religions then started warring with one another. If you can get past this absolutely insane backdrop and just try to enjoy the plot you'll probably have a better time of it than I did, but even then the whole thing is one clumsy, ham-fisted bunch of allusion and allegory after another. The Science-minded have set up their own city, mastered teleportation and the construction of robots with AI's and motor function advanced enough that they can work in brothels, and there our "protagonist" George meets a prostibot struggling towards becoming self aware. The adventures of George and the Sex Machine could have been quite fun and engaging in the hands of a better author, but Beckett devoted huge tracts of the book to apologising for people believing in things that can't be supported by fact, and not doing it very well.


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Claiming that the stated goal of the Illyrian Science City living according to what can be measured and verified, and nothing else was bad in and of itself. I've got to be honest, the idea of living in a society where every policy decision was based on actual statistical fact sounds pretty spectacular when compared to the alternatives. The whole thing is a mess, but there are some good ideas in there.

And at least it had the common decency to be over with quickly.