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The holy machine (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 5. Dezember 2013

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  • Taschenbuch: 304 Seiten
  • Verlag: Atlantic Books (5. Dezember 2013)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1782394036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782394037
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,2 x 1,9 x 19,8 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 873.845 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Beckett examines the interface between human and machine, rationalism and the religious impulse, with sparse prose and acute social commentary of a latter-day Orwell --Guardian Let's waste no time: this book is incredible --Interzone One of the most accomplished novel debuts to attract my attention in some time... A triumph --Asimov's Should be on the radar of anyone who professes concern for science fiction as a literary form --Alastair Reynolds


Illyria is a scientific utopia, an enclave of logic and reason founded off the Greek coast in the mid-twenty first century as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism sweeping the planet. Yet to George Simling, first generation son of a former geneticist who was left emotionally and psychically crippled by the persecution she encountered in her native Chicago, science-dominated Illyria is becoming as closed-minded and stifling as the religion-dominated world outside ...The Holy Machine is Chris Beckett's first novel. As well as being a story about love, adventure and a young man learning to mature and face the world, it deals with a question that is all too easily forgotten or glibly answered in science fiction: what happens to the soul, to beauty, to morality, in the absence of God? -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


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Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Quite nice read, not a page turner, but very interesting commentary on both the horrors of religious fanaticism, the shortcomings of rationalism and science and the futility of attempting to escape into virtual worlds. Interesting if somewhat constructed near future world with a single hold-out of science in a world that has succumbed to religious fanaticism (the Reaction). Recommended - much better than the usual SF novel. Good prose, but a bit superficial in its character development and definitely not a hard science fiction novel.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 14 Rezensionen
13 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Robot Love... Robot Religion? 2. Mai 2005
Von Milky Mixer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Chris Beckett's first novel, THE HOLY MACHINE, is as much spiritual quest as it is smart sci-fi. Since Amazon doesn't have a synopsis posted at this time, let me tell you about this book:

The story takes place in a semi-near future. Following "the Reaction," religious fundamentalism (in all of its many forms) has swept over our world, persecuting those who don't conform. But nestled off the Greek coast is a city-state called Illyria, a technological haven where science and logic are valued and protected, where human workers have been replaced by robots, and where mild-mannered translator George Simling is taking care of his unstable mother, a scientist so emotionally scarred from an attack by religious zealots that she'd rather spend her life living in SenSpace (a virtual reality cyberspace) than leave the safety of their apartment. Burdened by this situation and a job that puts him in the middle of dangerous political negotiations with neighboring countries, George finds comfort in the company of Lucy, a humanlike robot built for pleasure. Though he knows it's impossible, he finds himself falling in love with her... because Lucy has developed a soul! When the government mandates that all robots must be "wiped" every 6 months, George knows his only chance of being with Lucy is to take her out of the sanctuary of Illyria and into a potentially more hostile world where robots are thought of as demons.

Though George is an atheist by birth (having lived in Illyria all his life), this book isn't about being anti-spiritual or anti-religious. Travelling through the borderlands brings George face-to-face with faiths and gods that contradict themselves and one another, but through this confusion and this danger, George's journey becomes about self-discovery and spiritual-discovery.

I've had a thing for "robot love" stories since reading Tanith Lee's classic THE SILVER METAL LOVER many years ago. Similarly, Beckett's work asks many questions about the nature of a "soul." I found this book very hard to put down. With its relatively short, well-paced, and sometimes nail-biting chapters (lots of twists that I won't spoil, though I will say I couldn't believe what happened to the mother!), I spent a few nights staying up late under that "just one more chapter and then I'll go to sleep" excuse... and several more nights after I'd finished the book, pondering the story and the questions it raised. Good stuff! This is one of those books that makes you want to thank the author for writing it, and I'm looking forward to more from Chris Beckett.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An interesting character focused story 18. Februar 2011
Von Mark Chitty - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
I picked up The Holy Machine when I attended Alt.Fiction earlier this year after being persuaded by the guys at the Interzone table. The copy I picked up was the original US release, but I then received the UK copy from Corvus with the very nice cover art above. This really did prompt me to pick it up, and while I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to get, I knew that the subject could swing it one of two ways for me. Luckily The Holy Machine hit the right notes and delivered a great story, but I did have a couple of issues with it...

The first thing to say about The Holy Machine is the way it is written. Chris Beckett has somehow managed to write a book about pretty serious themes - religion vs science, AI sentience - but has managed to do so in such a way that makes the pages fly past. The prose is great and when you think you've only read a few minutes you realise that an hour has gone by. I love books that do this, there is nothing better than being completely and utterly caught up in the story.

The story itself has to match the writing and on the whole it did, providing some interesting looks into a future society where the world has taken religion to the extreme. With only Illyria left as a purely scientific outpost of humanity while the rest of the world has turned to religion proves an excellent choice. The underlying problems that are created by this black and white world are interesting enough, but it's the clear division of science/religion that I found a little hard to take at times. While this area of grey is part of the story, it feels like it could have been more thoroughly explored to expand the idea, but The Holy Machine is written from George's perspective and that limits what can and can't be delved into as part of the story.

The topic of AI sentience is one of the main aspects of The Holy Machine. With Illyria building more and more robots - from the standard household helpers, to police robots, and even prostitutes - the programs they initially start with evolve to bring a semi-sentience to them. The solution is, of course, to wipe their programs and start again. This is where the meat of The Holy Machine lies, with George and Lucy escaping Illyria and going on the run from both Illyria and the religions that despise AI creations. It's really interesting to see how the story progresses from here, but it also marks the part of the novel where time skips past at a fair rate. We don't follow everything, and this is just when the story starts to get into the more serious territory, the consequences of many earlier actions starting take hold in the wider world. It's not a let down, and doesn't really affect George's story, but it is an aspect I was a little disappointed with.

Despite the above issues I had with The Holy Machine, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not a long novel and not as in-depth as it could have been, but the story of George and Lucy makes it one of my favourites so far this year. It's what character based science-fiction is about, and I for one will be very much looking forward to the next Chris Beckett book.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
I, Love Robot 16. Februar 2011
Von A. Whitehead - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
The world has suffered the Reaction, a rise of religious fundamentalism that has outlawed science and thrown much of humanity into poverty. Only in Illyria, a great city-state in the eastern Mediterranean, does science still prevail. Growing up in Illyria, shy and timid George Simling accepts the doctrine of Reason until it begins to defeat itself: to prevent the development of true AI amongst its robot servitors, the rulers of the city decree that all robots are to have their memories wiped every six months, including that of George's love, the sex-robot Lucy. Fearing that her growing sentience will be obliterated and realising that Illyria's enforced atheism is as stifling as the religious insanity permeating the world outside, George takes Lucy and flees the city, hoping against hope to find somewhere they can live in peace.

The Holy Machine was originally released in 2004 in the United States, but came to broader attention when it was published in the UK by Corvus last year. Early reviews have claimed that the book is an important step forward in the development of science fiction as a literary form, proclaiming comparisons with Orwell. These have been somewhat overwrought, but certainly The Holy Machine is a book with artistic aims far beyond its simple, I, Love Robot, premise.

The novel addresses questions of blind faith (in science or religion), indoctrination, the stifling of questioning, free speech and what rights, if any, that sentient computer intelligences should be allowed to possess. These issues are discussed through the straightforward story, as George strives to find moderation and peace in a world uninterested in compromise and his mother is drawn deeper and deeper into the artificial reality of SensSpace. Beckett does not suggest his future is plausible or realistic (though elements of it are), instead using it as a backdrop to tell his modern, adult fable about identity and truth.

He is mostly successful. Like a Christopher Priest novel, the prose is deceptively simple, with themes and ideas revealing themselves as you read further into the book until you realise the picture Beckett has been painting is far more complex than it first appeared. Unfortunately, his characters suffer a little: George, his mother Ruth and Lucy are developed enough to be interesting, but don't really come to life in themselves enough to be really compelling, due to the low page count and tight focus. The same factors keep the story evolving quickly, preventing it getting bogged down too much in its issues, but this also means some interesting characters and subplots are skipped over too rapidly near the end, particularly George's encounters with religious moderates near the end of the book showing there is hope that the world can return to an acceptable balance after all.

The Holy Machine (****½) is a book that is deceptively straightforward but reveals more layers of theme and meaning as you progress further into it. This is intelligent and thought-provoking SF. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Pygmalion, utopia and robots evolved into people 16. Januar 2012
Von Theodore - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
What sort of man is too afraid of intimacy with a real woman that he prefers to pay for it with an animated sex toy? Sorry, no endlessly re-virginified houris - or maybe yes on the houris, if you get past the human made, self-evolving intelligent person bit. Perhaps Pygmalion's animated statue and the houri are beyond merely human artifact, but Beckett is relentless on us mere humans.

Beckett's hero does fall in love with such a robot sex worker, and only starts again with a human lover at the end of the novel - but this robot is evolving into a person who could pass a Turing test (as she has living skin, exprssessipns and body language captured from human actors a la Avatar, this is whole body with scents, not a Lisa program or a sex talk bot).

Perhaps it's the person emerging from the machine that makes him betray her?

The utopia gives rise to the machine prophet, and I suggest you give Beckett a chance to describe both the utopia and the self-imposed, literal medievalism of the background, fundamentalist world. He finds a human and robot personhood, dignity and even spiritual space, suspended between utopia and dystopia.

And it's fun.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
I would join the congregation... 22. Oktober 2012
Von Case Stephens - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
... despite how repulsive the slavering, rustic fanatics
of the Reaction had become in their violent rejection of
reason. At the end, the sermons of the Holy Machine were
to me - moving and relevant in a way that modern preachers
rarely are.

The Holy Machine seems to echo a popular skeptic meme of the fundamentalist apocalypse: 'what if religious nut-cases conquered everything', but it goes deeper than that - it explores the real root of belief, religion, and faith with sharp insights that stuck with me long after turning the final page.

The robots are used to illustrate the seeming hypocrisy of Illyria, the lone island of reason in a world where the death penalty is seriously considered for the crime of teaching evolution. The athiest-hardliners cannot acknowledge that robots might become sapient, or that rejecting all possibility of the Divine is as narrow as the frothing-mouthed superstitious ravings of the backwards villagers that ascribe advanced technology to the work of demons.

The robots too, are vehicles for the main character, and his traumatized mother to rediscover their own humanity even as the Holy Machine discovers its own destiny.

In terms of the science that is so important to Illyria, the design and concept of the robots seems logical, and Beckett takes us into the mind of the machine to illustrate a mechanical, alien thought process. Some readers may be put off by the non-human mentality the sexbot Lucy develops, but again... she's not human, she's a gynoid built for sexual pleasure. Although, as a technical note, using real human tissue would be problematic, many veneral diseases could still be transmitted. But the story on the whole works very well. The robots have a logical design, and the story does not depend on giving the sexbot dangerous superpowers that make no sense for her vocation - so common in robot fiction.

Robots and humans alike mesh into a work of philosophical potency through a journey of internal discovery. Some other good examples of robots used in this way would be the Fembot series, by D.B. story, or Apocalypse Doll: Reboot, by Xavier Cecil.
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