Machines Like Me: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Machines Like Me

This feels like a beautifully written, less sinister episode of "Black Mirror." What fun to be told a story set in a 1980s that never happened! "The present is the frailest of improbable constructs. It could have been different. Any part of it, or all of it, could be otherwise." Here, Alan Turing is a war hero, and his science has blessed the world with the Internet, cellphones, and A.I. by the 1970s. Now it's 1982, and the first batch of artificial humans - only 25! - are available for purchase.

All this is merely the setup for what follows: a profoundly philosophical story about a directionless man who buys an artificial human. He and the woman who lives in the flat above embark upon the strange journey of "raising" an adult robot. But the novelty is gone almost as soon as it appeared: "There is nothing so amazing that we can't get used to it." Emotions and tempers - whether organic or algorithmic - are put to the (Turing) test. But whose feelings, identities, and morals are the most true? Now that machines have obtained the divine gift of consciousness, our humanity struggles to remain relevant, while our new perfect roommates can (arguably) do it better.

This intricately manufactured story is equal parts artificial and intelligent. But the tale's artifice is so well written it's hard to spot the seams. As a commentary on modern life, its joy lies in that uncanny valley between lofty ideals and baser impulses, machine precision and the heart's messiness.

— From Tim


New from Ian McEwan, Booker Prize winner and international bestselling author of Atonement and The Children Act

Machines Like Me takes place 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 synthetic humans and—with Miranda's help—he designs Adam's personality. The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong, and clever. It isn't long before a love triangle soon forms, and these three beings confront a profound moral dilemma.
     In his subversive new novel, Ian McEwan asks whether a machine can understand the human heart—or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.

About the Author

IAN McEWAN is the bestselling author of seventeen books, including the novels Nutshell; The Children Act; Sweet Tooth; Solar, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize; On Chesil Beach; Saturday; Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both short-listed for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award; as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets.

Praise For…

"Thought provoking . . . consistently surprising . . . an intriguing novel about humans, machines, and what constitutes a self."
—Publishers Weekly

"McEwan brings humor and considerable ethical rumination to a cautionary tale about artificial intelligence."

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385545112
ISBN-10: 0385545118
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2019
Pages: 352