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Machines Like Me

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.

Praise for Machines Like Me:

‘The novel is as honed and well-constructed as one would expect from McEwan. There is much fine and elegant phrasemaking […] No doubt the novel will be a success.’ Literary Review

‘A risk-taking novel that’s a real tour de force […] Machines Like Me displays that repertoire in all its impressive richness. Excited by ideas and perceptive about emotions, encompassing cutting-edge science, philosophical speculation and lively social observation, it is funny, thought-provoking and politically acute (its divided nation obliquely mirrors Brexit-bisected Britain). In this bravura performance, literary flair and cerebral sizzle winningly combine.’ The Sunday Times

‘This is right up there with [McEwan’s] very best. Machines like Me manages to combine the dark acidit of McEwan’s great early stories with the crowd-pleasing readability of his more recent work. A novel this smart oughtn’t to be such fun, but it is.’ The Observer

You’ll find it hard not to admire the sheer scale of McEwan’s ambition. Many literary novels claim to be exploring ‘what it means to be human’. Few carry out this exploration as thoroughly, or as literally, as this does’ Mail Online

Master storyteller Ian McEwan travels back to an alternate timeline to pose the questions of the future […] Machines Like Me offers a good primer on the multifarious anxieties that should afflict us all as anything categorised as “non-fiction”. GQ

McEwan gives the whole subject of artificial intelligence a thorough and fascinating examination […] A rich and thought-provoking read.’ Reader’s Digest

McEwan reminds readers that the present is the frailest of possible future constructs, in which a kaleidoscope of options remains possible.’ Financial Times

‘Machines Like Me feels like a novel about empathy, and the artificial limits we set on it – by race, by gender, by geographical location – so that we can sleep at night in a world of cruelty and horror.’ New Statesman

‘This book […] reminds you of its author’s mastery of the underrated craft of storytelling. The narrative is propulsive […] The novel is morally complex and very disturbing, animated by a spirit of sinister and intelligent mischief that feels unique to its author.’ The Guardian

Ian McEwan has always been a generous writer to his readers, his novels bulging with big ideas and rich story-telling.’ Irish Daily Mail

‘A tour de force’ The Sunday Times

‘Arguably the finest English writer of his generation, the ideas [McEwan] explores are important, now more than ever.’ Daily Express

‘[McEwan] marries a gripping plot, handled with rarefied skill and dexterity, to a deep excavation of the narrowing gap between the canny and the uncanny, leaving the reader pleasurably dizzied, and marvelling at human existence.’ The Independent

‘“Machines Like Me” is a retrofuturist drama that takes on the ethics of both artificial intelligence and all-too-human intimacy. [The novel] explores the anxiety of living under a superman’s inflexible scrutiny.’ The New Yorker

Author: Ian McEwan
Agent: Peter Straus
Territories: US
Other Ian McEwan Titles