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The Turing Test

A collection of 14 short stories.  WINNER OF THE EDGE HILL SHORT FICTION AWARD 2009, and the Edge Hill Readers’ Prize.

NB: Though Elastic Press is no longer in business, this book is STILL IN PRINT.  It is also available on Kindle.

Comments from James Walton, Chair of Edge Hill panel of judges:

‘I suspect Chris Beckett winning the Edge Hill Prize will be seen as a surprise in the world of books. In fact, though, it was also a bit of surprise to the judges, none of whom knew they were science fiction fans beforehand. Yet, once the judging process started, it soon became clear that The Turing Test was the book that we’d all been impressed by, and enjoyed, the most – and one by one we admitted it.

‘This was a very strong shortlist, including one Booker Prize winner in Anne Enright, and two authors who’ve been Booker shortlisted in Ali Smith and Shena Mackay. Even so, it was Beckett who seemed to us to have written the most imaginative and endlessly inventive stories, fizzing with ideas and complete with strong characters and big contemporary themes. We also appreciated the sheer zest of his story-telling and the obvious pleasure he had taken in creating his fiction.’

The Turing Test at Waterstones /Amazon UK / Amazon US

Kindle version: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Continue reading “The Turing Test”

Karel’s Prayer

Published in Interzone, September-October 2006; 2nd place in annual Interzone reader’s poll.

(This story is collected in The Turing Test from Elastic Press)

Reviews:

“I’ll admit that Chris Beckett’s “Karel’s Prayer” was the one I was really itching to read, and so I left it till last, just like the Yorkshire puddings with my Sunday roast. Ah, sweet deferment of gratification – it was well worth the wait. The clever layering and deep themes are a hallmark of Beckett at his best – mixed in with the clash of science and religion are questions of identity, of knowing who and what one is. Dovetailing with current events in the news, there is torture and sneaky governments enacting backstage shenanigans in the name of national security. The very ambiguity of right and wrong is the pivot for the whole thing – comparative morality portrayed with all the warts and scars. It would be a shame to spoil this one for a reader, so you’ll just have to take my word for it – this is a brilliant story. At the risk of veering into hyperbole, Beckett may run the risk of becoming (thematically, at least) Britain’s Philip K. Dick – I say ‘risk’ only because that’s one hell of a benchmark to set for anyone. I hope he lives up to it – minus the descent into religious paranoia and insanity, of course.” – Paul Graham Raven, Velcro City Tourist Board

Tammy Pendant

Published in Asimov’s, March 2004

Reviews:

“From the writer’s bio we learn that Chris Beckett has been a social worker, a career that judging from “Tammy Pendant” lends a tint of gritty nastiness to one’s worldview. The title character is a problem teen caught in the ministrations of the British social service. We meet her in between foster homes, suffering the attentions of psychologists and caseworkers. Tammy is bitter and angry. She alienates everyone who might otherwise care for her. All the kids at the center where Tammy now lives know about the Shifters, a group of people who can move between worlds. Here’s Tammy’s self-defined salvation. She seduces a Shifter, steals his bag of magic pills, and takes one, only to be caught by the police and brought to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. The system, it seems, won’t let her go. Does the experience change Tammy? That would be telling. Suffice it to say that this is an excellent story with a mean streak that’s true to the very end.” – Jeremy Lyon, Tangent