Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

VINE VOICEon 15 October 2015
Chris Beckett writes the type of thoughtful sci-fi that has become hard to find. In the Holy Machine, he explores notions of belief, society, dogma, rationalism and the dehumanising effects on the people and the self through an over-reliance on technology or religion.

The Holy Machine is an interesting read, although perhaps not a thrilling one. There are few moments which will leave you gasping for breath; it's not a rip-roaring page-turner. What The Holy Machine is, is a thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of a possible future, of society, and of consciousness. Beckett's writing is unfussy and unpretentious which is well suited to the material.

The only negatives are: while I'm loathe to give away any plot spoilers, it's unlikely you will be surprised by the way the plot unfolds. Unlike his later works, The God Machine has a tendency to tell rather than show, which is a bit of a shame. However, despite these criticisms, I would happily recommend this novel to anyone keen to read thoughtful sci-fi. If you enjoyed the recent TV series "Humans" I'm confident you will like The Holy Machine.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 2 October 2015
Illyria is a technocracy close to where historical Illyria existed; a city state that has rejected religion and lives by science and empirical facts, but it requires workers from the surrounding theocracy's to function at its basic levels, but little by little they are replacing the human workers with more advanced robots to eliminate the irrational ideas the migrant workers bring.

All is not well in techno paradise there is dissent in some levels that feel life has become arid and with out humanity while the intelligent robots are developing erratic code, that makes them act outside parameters specified for their function.

Translator George Simling, falls in love with Lucy one of the sex robots a syntec, that are use to provide pleasure, it is and irrational feeling, he is aware how irrational it is but he cannot help himself, Lucy is having problems with her code but is not reporting it and George is pushing her in directions she is not built for, till one day she becomes self aware.

Brilliantly written with great questions and a reich creation of a world that feels too familiar or too realistic, a brave new world where God is the creation of all our problems and its idea infects even binary code, with the irrational need to believe.

Great science fiction that is motivated by questioning religions real dilemmas and by creating societies that are all too human, where magic and belief are understood to be the needs of biology or digital minds.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 26 September 2011
Believable science fiction usually works in a not too distance future where just a few small changes and shifts creates quite a different world of life for the people. This does just that.

You can imagine if things had turned a little bit differently after something like 9/11 you could be here. Basically a wave of religious fundamentalism has swept the work and the city-state of Illyria sees itself as an oasis of science in the middle of it. They don' allow religion but they almost worship science itself.

Robots are used int he homes and they now have synths - robots with real skin that you can't tell from human). The highly sophisticated synths fill many roles in this society, including prostitution. There is a known problem though, which is known throughout the cuty, that some roberts seem to be developing self-awareness so there is a prgramme lanched to wipe their robot minds regularly to stop this spread.

Along comes George who falls in love with Lucy - a synth. He decides to rescue her and escape to the world outside of the city where robots aren't exactly feared, but hated. The story really evolves from this point. Lucy can't really escape her programming and George is disappointed by how things start to work out, or not work out for him and Lucy. The events take a real turn for the worse and George continues to life his life in the Outlands until he hears of the Holy Machine - a sort of myth of a holy robot travelling around the world.

Great book that shows how our fantasies of life can be sadly miss-directed.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 10 November 2017
An interesting and well written book that examines topics such as what it means to be sentient, the nature of belief and truth and what gives life meaning.

The story moves along at a pace and kept my interest all the way through and gave me cause to smile with its understated humour.

Well worth a read
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 29 October 2017
I read this after some of his later work, and was a bit disappointed. Not because this is bad - far from it. Beckett makes a better character than almost anyone else, and that skill is clearly evident here too. But this book just doesn't quite do it for me. It's like he hasn't quite worked out how to put a book together yet.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 26 July 2015
The book has a touch of 1984 and some of the great writings of the 60s. Outlining a police state based on the worship of rationality where all the rest of the world is a religious madhouse. The main character George is naive and with no close relationships. His 'female' partner is a robot, who does NOT become paranoid or psychotic (for a change). His exploration outside of the city explores some of mankind's bleaker side and also redemption.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 2 June 2015
I read this after enjoying Dark Eden by the same author. This book also raises questions about religion, politics, society, and existence but through a completely different vehicle. It is clever and believable vision of a potential near future, and in that way also quite disturbing at times. For me the story telling fell a little flat for a couple of chapters somewhere in the middle, but I did enjoy the read and the experience. Recommended.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 6 December 2012
I was organising the content on my kindle one day and found this book that I hadn't remembered buying. It turned out I'd bought it in one of Amazon's sales for 99p, so I figured I'd paid for it, I'd better read it!

I like the concepts, the characters aren't bad, the plot is generally good, I just found the idea of Illyria and certain events in the book to be a little unbelievable, and certain elements a little predictable.

Nevertheless it was definitely readable and enjoyable, kept me turning pages through to the end.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 17 June 2014
Definitely worth a read, this book is set in a future dystopia where a wave of religious extremism (the ‘Reaction’) has lead to a general collapse of society everywhere except the small enclave of Illyria. Initially a sanctuary for atheists, scientists and technicians, now only scientific rationality is allowed. Our socially dysfunctional protagonist falls in love with a sex-robot that slowly starts to develop independent thinking. These are ideas that have always proved a rich vein for Science Fiction writing: what is it to be human? What does it mean to have a soul? Can we gain/loose/re-gain our humanity? These concepts are explored again in the claustrophobic lives of the three main characters in this book juxtaposed against ideas of religion and religious belief versus rational thought. Although I enjoyed this book – the short chapters especially meant it was easy to read in short bursts – I didn’t feel there was much of a real conclusion reached by the end, but maybe I just missed the point. I couldn’t help but feel a story set around the Reaction would have been more interesting than the events described. But it did make me think, and it has a creepy resonance with current events.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 30 December 2013
I really enjoyed Dark Eden, so was keen to read the Holy Machine. In this case the setting is a near future world in which most countries have degenerated into fundamentalist religious theocracies of one sort or another, leaving only a single "rational, scientific" state, Illyria. The conflicts between these forces, and the counter-descent of Illyria into an increasingly autocratic, atheist regime, form the backdrop. The "human" side of the story revolves around the relationship between a man, George, and a humanoid robot, Lucy, that is in the process of becoming conscious. So, I think these are very interesting themes and are dealt with in interesting ways. The plot in places doesn't really hang together (why does George join the resistance movement, when he has no strong reason to do so?), and some of the future technology is also unlikely (why would robots use ultrasound to communicate, rather than simply radio?). Still, a reasonable read, if not in the same class as Dark Eden.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse