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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2009
The content of the best of the stories in this collection has stayed with me since I read them a couple of weeks ago. In "Dark Eden", an incompatible couple find themselves stranded on a sun-less planet and are forced to consider their own insignificance - and that of humanity - in the context of a vast universe. In "Karel's Prayer", Beckett plays with the idea of "field induced copies" (created from "the precise imprint of [the] body on the suface of space time"), and whether the copy, who has no rights, has any responsibilities to the original. And in "The Marriage of Sea and Sky" an arrogant author, part anthropologist and part travel writer, sets down on a new planet which he intends to exploit for further fame. In his quest for new material and his desire to make all he encounters fit his theories, he grossly misreads a social situation and finds himself forced to go native...

I saw a positive review of Chris Beckett's collection in one of the broadsheet weekend sections and ordered myself a copy with high expectations, which have on the whole been met. The collection includes a few loosely linked stories set in future Londons with recurring characters, interspersed with standalone works, and fuse the sociological/psychological though-experiment elements of what is sometimes referred to as "speculative fiction" with the harder, cyber elements of specific techologies of the future. Most are generally well-executed, but I had the feeling that a more literary-minded editor might have polished them into truely five star works of fiction. The collection is also slightly let down by some poor proof-reading. But I have no doubt that I will be re-reading it, and will seek out more of Beckett's work.
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VINE VOICEon 9 January 2009
I read some of Chris Beckett's excellent stories in Interzone in the 1990s - `The Welfare Man' is particularly memorable. So this new collection is very welcome. These stories are witty, intriguing, absorbing and (unlike much recent sf) consistently readable. One of the things I like about Beckett's fiction is his willingness to return to familiar sf themes - a world (nearly) without men, the impact of AI on humans and their relationships, encounters with alien societies - and give them a new twist. I strongly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys reading sf.
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on 5 September 2009
Too many SF books today are bloated and/or weak, I struggle to find modern SF that I enjoy. I recall reading stories years ago that were short, intriguing, atmospheric - and they left you feeling pleasantly surprised at the end. The Turing Test contains stories that bring all that back.
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VINE VOICEon 3 April 2012
The city is wrecked; abandoned. As you walk the streets avoiding the potholes, unremitting rain invades the roofless, crumbling houses. And then you turn on your implants: suddenly you are surrounded by lights, traffic, people! The modern, perfect metropolis bustles around you - people stop and stare, murmuring at your insanely high resolution. Sometimes they spit the word `physical'.

You are old and spiteful; you lure a young delinquent to your home in the suburbs. He is raw, uneducated - has no idea that he lives in augmented reality. Your elderly husband objects but he's easy to manipulate. You're going to take this kid's illusions away one by one; wait till he finds out where he really is, and what part of him is all that remains in the real. And there is nothing he can do about it.

Part `The Matrix' and part horror, this is the world of two of Chris Beckett's stories in his collection `The Turing Test`, just released on Amazon Kindle.

We travel with Cardinal-Major Illucian of the 32nd Pristine Guard to a most secure prison island. The warrior Half-and-Half has been imprisoned for one hundred years but the legendary soldier is unchanged. The war is going badly for the Empire and his duplicitous skills are needed again. In vain the immortal explains: `So the Emperor thinks he can make use of me, does he? Doesn't he know how I got my name? I'm Half-and-Half! Whoever I serve, whoever I have dealings with, I do them just as much harm as I do good and just as much good as harm.'

The Emperor thinks he can `channel the warrior in the right direction', just like all his predecessors. To this end, Half-and-Half is fitted with an antimatter bracelet which can be remotely detonated - and sent off to reverse the tides of war. Success and betrayal: this is the scientific age and no-one believes in the offspring of angels and demons - what could possibly go wrong?

Karel Slade is Executive Director of Christians for Human Integrity. His organization is opposed to artificial intelligence, cloning and copying. He is also a secret leader of the Soldiers of the Holy Ghost, CHI's militant wing which bombs and kills its opponents. Perhaps he should not have been surprised when he woke in what seemed to be his hotel room to discover the door led only to an interrogation suite.

Mr. Thomas seems affable enough, but as for Mr. Occam ... Karel is shackled in the interrogation chair and can't quite see what Occam is doing in that cabinet, but he can plainly hear the steely clink of the instruments of torture. Karel looks to his faith to sustain him, but his tormentors convey a terrifying possibility: they have copied the real Karel and he is the copy. So why should he suffer excruciating agonies to save the secrets of his `original', someone who'd care not a fig for him? What a dilemma ... but there again, perhaps his captors lied?

The fourteen stories in this collection first appeared back in 2008 when they received stellar reviews. Beckett writes well, hooks the reader from the very first paragraph and keeps the pages turning. His latest novel, `Dark Eden was released a couple of months ago and is already tipped to win a major award this year.
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on 27 February 2011
I was never really into SF. I got this book as a Christmas present from my mum (not sure why really) but Im glad she did. I instantly fell in love with it. Each story is exceedingly addictive and different. The majority of the short stories have more than enough mileage in them for a novel so it pained me to see them coming to an end after 20 pages!

So its fair to say that Im now a fan of SF, or at least of Chris Beckett. I immediately bought his two other novels (Marcher and Holy Machine) which so far are exactly what I was hoping for!

So thanks to Chris for helping me discover a whole new genre of fiction!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 June 2013
The Turing Test contains 14 short stories which whilst definitely Science Fiction have much to say about our current world and where it is headed. The 14 stories are sometimes linked, with similar characters or worlds. They include a world where the solution to environmental disaster is a alternate reality closely aligned to the Matrix, a world where copies of people can be made, a universe where people can 'shift' between alternate realities and many more. Some have twists in the tale, other just leave you thinking.

Always well written these stories make you long for Beckett to explore these worlds further and in novel format. They are a tantalising glimpse of worlds which he seems to have developed quite a long way. The characters are always interesting and the stories always involving. The Kindle version is slightly flawed in that you can't navigate between chapter, you have to read page by page. That's a minor flaw when every story is so rich and rewarding. Not since Michael Marshall Smith's rather excellent collection What You Make It has a British Science Fiction writer deliver short stories so well. Its well deserving of the awards its getting and is a very good read indeed.
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on 30 May 2015
One of the most striking set of short-stories I've read in a long-time. The closest you'll find to them are short stories by J.G. Ballard or Primo Levi's short stories, especially the former. I really think that Beckett has assumed the mantle from J.G. Ballard of completely gripping, surprising and often disturbing short stories which explore a variety of philosphical themes. Some of them are really tense and compact literary "bomblets" with fantastic use of imagery and language and are significant works of literature in their own right. Take the last story which describes a copy of an individual being ruthlessly tortured. You won't be able to stop reading it and you will come blinking out into the light after you've finished it. Anyone who has the misconception that science fiction literature is all laser blasters and warp drives should read these short stories. High Art.
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on 10 July 2013
Chris is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. First come across him when reading Dark Eden which is one of my all time best reads. In this collection is the short story prequel to Dark Eden which sets the scene for the main story which helps you get to grips with the book. Also several of these short stories have nods towards Chris's Novels. Which opens you up to how the man develops his story lines. I like the way he writes and I am really pleased to hear that the follow up to Dark Eden is being written and being released as a monthly series, not unlike Mr Dickens use to do!
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on 8 May 2014
Stupidly I had forgotten that these were short stories as I normally don't purchase these kinds of books. Imagine my surprise when finishing - what I now know is the first short story - expecting the story to continue. Daaahhh!!! I have really struggled to get into my reading lately, nothing seems to inspire me but these were just long enough to sustain my interest and very readable. An enjoyable book.
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on 15 March 2013
Having just finished Chris's excellent novel dark Eden I was keen to read more. This collection contains some excellent stuff. I especially liked the stories concerned with a virtual reality London. I also really liked the fact that Several of the stories were linked. Am very much looking forward to reading Chris's next collection and will probably make time to read most of his stuff.
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