> Skip to content

Our foremost storyteller returns with an audacious new novel, 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.

Reviews

[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*

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

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

Economia, The pick of 2019 reads

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

Evening Standard

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

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

James Walton, Reader's Digest

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

Intelligently explored… 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… [and] grand thoughts.

Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

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

Emma Lee-Potter, Independent

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

Bill Prince

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

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.

Metro

Machines Like Me is a sharply intelligent novel of ideas.

Dwight Garner, New York Times

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

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

Economist

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

In Machines Like Me… 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 crackling like a Jumping Jack on Bonfire Night, muses on love, empathy and the morality and ethics of Artificial Intelligence… Arguably the finest English writer of his generation, the ideas he explores are important, now more that ever… very good.

Richard Dismore, Daily Express

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

Ella Walker, Eastern Daily Press

A deep dive into what it means to be human

i

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

UK Press Syndication

[A] sublimely playful novel… Machines Like Me is…a medley of skilfully interweaved fairy tales for the computer age… there isn’t a page that fails to make you think, or make you smile – and often he manages both at the same time.

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

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 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

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

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*

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781787331679

    April 16, 2019

    Jonathan Cape

    320 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Hardback

    9781787331662

    April 18, 2019

    Jonathan Cape

    320 pages

    RRP $48.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Audio CD

    9781786142252

    April 18, 2019

    Audiobooks

    RRP $55.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

Extract

ONE

It was religious yearning granted hope, it was the holy grail of science. Our ambitions ran high and low – for a creation myth made real, for a monstrous act of self-love. As soon as it was feasible, we had no choice but to follow our desires and hang the consequences. In loftiest terms, we aimed to escape our mortality, confront or even replace the Godhead with a perfect self. More practically, we intended to devise an improved, more modern version of ourselves and exult in the joy of invention, the thrill of mastery. In the autumn of the twentieth century, it came about at last, the first step towards the fulfilment of an ancient dream, the beginning of the long lesson we would teach ourselves that however complicated we were, however faulty and difficult to describe in even our simplest actions and modes of being, we could be imitated and bettered. And I was there as a young man, an early and eager adopter in that chilly dawn.

Continue Reading