Machines Like Me

Machines Like Me

A Novel

Book - 2019
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"Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. 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. 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 against the power to invent things beyond our control"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, [2019]
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780385545112
0385545118
Branch Call Number: SCIENCE FICTION McEwan, Ian
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 22 cm

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DominiqueRossier
Jun 14, 2019

I loved this novel, as I have loved every text by McEwan that I have ever read, so I might be positively biased.
This novel is a modest page-turner. I obviously wanted to know what would happen to Charlie, Miranda and Adam. Yet the author knows how to make his readers understand that simply finding out what what will happen is only as important as (or less important than) thinking about various issues raised by the plot. There is, of course, the question of man vs. machine, but not only. A few other issues: what is ethic, what makes one guilty, what is love, what is forgiveness… So take your time when reading.
I really enjoyed the alternate history that forms the background for the story. Past meets Future + modified events + invented elements = a rich world to discover. Kinda like in the Thursday Next series.
Let me finish with two trivia:
- In various languages, including Turkish or Azerbaijani, the word "adam" means man. Even if McEwan was not aware of this, it's interesting given the topic of the novel
- The picture of Adam on the cover strongly reminds me of Matteo Bocelli (check out the video of "Fall on Me"). Again, this hints at the blurring between man and machine!

t
TripodSnowDog
Jun 07, 2019

Absolutely brilliant. It's one of the first books I've read in a long time where I would change absolutely nothing about it. I don't even have the words to begin to describe how much I adore this novel, from its characters and its tone down to the way it paints humanity as a race.

I didn't finish this either, but mainly because I didn't like the protagonist. I did appreciate the alternate history of the Falklands War and the fallout surrounding it, but I just kept comparing this to the series Humans

j
Judithbond
May 10, 2019

In reference to an earlier comment, thank goodness all novels are not written with Americans in mind. I’m a great fan of McEwans novels and as per usual the ending sees the philosophical punch when the protagonist converses with Turing. If you love his writing this one won’t let you down. JBO

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NVMercer
May 10, 2019

I could not finish reading this book because a third of the way through there has yet to be a plot. There’s these tiny page-long scenes interspersed into his stream-of-consciousness poetic waxing about the history of AI and the state of world politics. The main character goes to the doctor for an ingrown toenail and it prompts a multi-page reflection on the history of medicine. Not only is this so incredibly irrelevant to the plot, it’s also mind-numbingly boring. We get it, you did worldbuilding research, but we don't need to know every tiny detail about how your alternate history world is different, especially when it's not that different.

The "what makes us human?" android story has been done a dozen times before, and I can't see that McEwan is bringing anything new to the table.

b
BKWordNerd
May 09, 2019

McEwan's alternate history is built on changing an event that few American readers have probably ever heard. And rather than infusing the story with the changed timeline, he drops long expositions about how his world was working. While his premise of AI and humanity could have been interesting in the hands of other writers who deftly explore other histories and the essence of being human, McEwan clomps along, smashing down what once was a good idea into a terrible, plodding novel.

debwalker Apr 18, 2019

Big read for spring.

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TripodSnowDog
Jun 04, 2019

It was religious yearning granted hope, it was the holy grail of science. Our ambitions ran high and low - for a creation myth made real, for a monstrous act of self-love.

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