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Jul 2011
The Holy Machine - Chris Beckett - Corvus, 2011
* * * * *
You are unlikely to have come across Chris Beckett unless you read the science fiction magazine Interzone, to which he has been a regular contibutor for many years. His stories always stood out for me because of their strong rootedness in urban Britain, a setting informed by his day job as a social worker. He is most certainly not an SF writer who could be accused of having no interest in people, and all his stories make observations about the nature of being human through the use of fantastical motifs. They are, in other words, proper science fiction, doing what science fiction ought to do.

It is often difficult for short story writers to find a publisher for their longer works and this one is no exception. It was originally released in the USA by a small independent press in 2004 and has only recently received a mass-market paperback edition in the UK. This is exceptionally pleasing, for it is a significant SF novel with things to say about the bang-up-to-date question of the co-existence of science and religion. It is also an affecting story about robots and humans and the potentially hazy border between the two. It thoroughly deserves to be more widely read.
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