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  • Published: 18 April 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473568020
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 10 hr 54 min
  • Narrator: Billy Howle

Machines Like Me

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Lessons

Our foremost storyteller returns with an audacious new novel, Machines Like Me.

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan, read by Billy Howle.

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.

  • Published: 18 April 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473568020
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 10 hr 54 min
  • Narrator: Billy Howle

About the author

Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen books. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; Nutshell; and Machines Like Me, which was a number-one bestseller. Atonement, Enduring Love, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach have all been adapted for the big screen.

Also by Ian McEwan

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Praise for Machines Like Me

[Machines Like Me] traverses the muddled morality of Artificial Intelligence... This is new and exciting ground for McEwan, one of Britain's most consistently brilliant writers.

Olivia Ovenden, Harper's Bazaar, *The Books We Can't Wait To Read In 2019*

McEwan returns with another ambitious, high-concept work... [exploring] some very timely moral dilemmas.

Economia, The pick of 2019 reads

In [Machines Like Me], McEwan has taken his creativity into a subversive alternative 1980s London… the young couple at the centre of McEwan’s story find out the danger in inventing things beyond our control.

Rebecca Thomas, BBC News

McEwan gives the whole subject of artificial intelligence a thorough and fascinating examination… a rich and thought-provoking read.

James Walton, Reader's Digest

Ian McEwan's latest novel, Machines Like Me, is a topsy-turvy tour de force.

Evening Standard

The novel is as honed and well constructed as one would expect from McEwan… a sleek and streamlined work by a master technician.

Jonathan Barnes, Literary Review

Ian McEwan has always been a generous writer to his readers, his novels bulging with big ideas and rich story-telling… [it’s] hard not to admire the sheer scale of McEwan’s ambition. Many literary novels claim to be exploring ‘what it is to be human’. Few carry out this exploration as thoroughly, or as literally, as [Machines Like Me] does.

Daily Mail

McEwan knows all the novelistic rules… [and his] restlessness when it comes to subject matter, even as he enters his seventies, is stunning… [Machines Like Me] shimmer[s] with relevance.

Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

[McEwan is] as mordant a chronicler of the age as we haveMachines Like Me offers as good a primer on the multifarious anxieties that should afflict us all as anything catalogued as "non-fiction".

Bill Prince

Compelling… unforgettably strange… there are many pleasures and many moments of profound disquiet in this book, which reminds you of its author’s mastery of the underrated craft of storytelling… [Machines Like Me] is morally complex and very disturbing, animated by a spirit of sinister and intelligent mischief that feels unique to its author.

Marcel Theroux, Guardian

Machines Like Me reminds us that McEwan is once-in-a-generation talent, offering readerly pleasure, cerebral incisiveness and an enticing imagination.

Lara Feigel, Spectator

Machines like Me displays… 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… In this bravura performance, literary flair and cerebral sizzle winningly combine.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

Adam, an eerily ambiguous presence throughout, proves a highly effective conduit for McEwan to channel all sorts of interesting questions concerning sexual consent, the burden of knowledge, the collapse of the borders between public and private and whether humans or machines are better equipped to behave ethically.


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.

Helen Lewis, New Statesman

Machines Like Me is ultimately about the age-old question of what makes people human. The reader is left baffled and beguiled.


Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me is a dazzling account of our interaction with technology… He 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.

Philip Womack, Independent

[McEwan's] fierce intelligence [crackles] like a Jumping Jack on Bonfire Night… Arguably the finest English writer of his generation, the ideas he explores are important, now more that ever.

Richard Dismore, Daily Express

McEwan’s prose is, as expected, nuanced, thoughtful and beguiling.

Ella Walker, Eastern Daily Press


Jude Cook

Machines Like Me is deeply intriguing, a little unnerving and quite captivating… [it] will leave you questioning, and imagining how our not too distant future might look.

UK Press Syndication

In this sublimely playful novel… there isn’t a page that fails to make you think, or make you smile.

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

[Machines Like Me] is right up there with his very best [novels]. Machines Like Me manages to combine the dark acidity 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.

Alex Preston, Observer

Ian McEwan is one of our most venerated living writers… [in Machines Like Me] McEwan shrewdly touches upon the intricacies of artificial intelligence.

Rabeea Saleem, Irish Times

McEwan teases out the ethical dilemmas of this storyline with his customary verve… [Machines Like Me is] effortlessly readable and fizzing with ideas.

Irish Independent

Machines Like Me is a sharply intelligent novel of ideas.

Dwight Garner, New York Times

It wasn’t going to be long before [McEwan] swooped upon the ethical conundrums of artificial intelligence… Wonderful… [McEwan] pose[s] all sorts of questions about humanity.

Suzi Feay, Tablet, *Novel of the Week*

Machines Like Me is elegantly constructed, the sentences are consistently lovely, and the character dynamics…compelling.

News Puddle

McEwan knows how to fashion a twisty and pacy narrative, to keep us alive to the possibility that what we’re reading…is not all that it seems.

Alex Clark, Oldie, *Nook of the Month*

McEwan muses on love, empathy and the morality and ethics of artificial intelligence… very good.

Richard Dismore, Daily Mirror, *Book of the Month*

An important literary contribution to the AI debate, one of the great questions of our time.

Country and Townhouse

Precisely rendered and well observed… [McEwan] neatly delineates humanity’s remorseless self-demotion from the centre of the universe to flotsam.

Lionel Shriver, Standpoint

[An] undeniably another excellent novel from McEwan, who demonstrates that he can conjure up challenging characters, witty dialogue and moral ambiguity when dealing with sex robots just as brilliantly as he does on literary turf.

Hilary Lamb, Institution of Engineering and Technology

Dexterous, utterly gripping and intensely thought-provoking.

attitude, *Book of the Month*

Deeply unnerving… What starts out as a darkly funny ménage à trois becomes an unsettling examination of the human condition. Bold, clever.

Laura Powell, Sunday Telegraph

Original, and as always with McEwan’s novels, beautifully written.

Emma Lee-Potter, Independent, *Summer Reads of 2019*

The latest novel from my favourite author tackles the subjects of artificial intelligence and what it is to be human. He does this in a surprising, original way, and Adam, the strong, seductive "robot", is a character that will haunt me for a long time.

Victoria Hislop, The Week

[This] new, gripping, beautifully written and constructed, disturbing, and provocative novel…is a thrilling read… the chilling conclusions that hyper-rationalism can come to are brilliantly described.

Roger Jones, BJGP

McEwan maintains his status as a master of fiction.

Maria Crawford, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2019*

A new collection of stories that explores the complex - and often darkly funny - connections between gender, sex, and power across genres.

The Week, *Summer reads of 2019*

Ian McEwan’s sublimely playful new novel transports you back to the Eighties but with some major changes, including eerily life-like robots… Dark and slyly funny, it’ll also give your brain a workout.

Neil Armstrong and Hephizbah Anderson, Mail on Sunday, *Summer Reads of 2019*

Effortlessly brilliant, gripping, funny, touching.

Craig Raine, New Statesman, *Books of the Year*