Man vs Machine
it is 1895, and Sherlock Holmes is settling back into life as a consulting detective at 221B Baker Street, when he and Watson learn of strange goings-on amidst the dreaming spires of Oxford.
A Professor Quantock has built a wondrous computational device, which he claims is capable of analytical thought to rival the cleverest men alive. Naturally Sherlock Holmes cannot ignore this challenge. He and Watson travel to Oxford, where a battle of wits ensues between the great detective and his mechanical counterpart as they compete to see which of them can be first to solve a series of crimes, from a bloody murder to a missing athlete. But as man and machine vie for supremacy, it becomes clear that the Thinking Engine has its own agenda...
About the Author
James Lovegrove is the New York Times best-selling author of The Age of Odin, the third novel in his critically-acclaimed Pantheon military SF series. He was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1998 for his novel Days and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2004 for his novel Untied Kingdom. He also reviews fiction for the Financial Times. He is the author of Sherlock Holmes: Gods of War and Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares for Titan Books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Can a machine out think Sherlock Holmes? Sherlock Holmes and the Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove Canonically, this takes place concurrent with 3STU, in 1895. Holmes meets Harry Houdini for the first time while investigating reports of a mummy roaming the British Museum. The mummy in question is among the Rubenstein Collection, property of an eccentric American newspaper magnate. Afterwards, Holmes finds himself insulted by a newspaper article. The article in question states that a Professor Malcolm Quantock, of Balliol College, Oxford; has created a Thinking Engine. This device goes further than Charles Babbage’s Difference and Analytical Engines. Given the raw data, imputed on a typewriter keyboard, Quantock’s Thinking Engine is able to think and reason, and then solve cases, reporting via teletype. Later in the story phonographic cylinders give the machine a voice of sorts. The article further states that this machine is the equal of Sherlock Holmes himself. There is a challenge for Holmes to come to Oxford and face the machine. A newspaper owner even puts up five hundred pounds against Holmes’ chances. Holmes, never one to take second place to man or machine travels to Oxford. A murder takes place where the suspect seems to have an unshakable alibi. The challenge is on! And the machine apparently works… This story shows the dogged energy Holmes will put in to solve all challenges. Holmes barges ahead with no thought as to the feelings of anyone, and the relationship between Holmes and Watson becomes strained. The machine appears to work, but if it does, what could this mean for the world? If, as Professor Quantock postulates, there is a Thinking Engine in every Police Department in the world—why would anyone need a detective period, much less one as skilled as Holmes? The twists and turns of this story are far too good for me to go any further and spoil the tale for other readers. I will say I didn’t see this one coming! You are going to like this adventure, I all but guarantee it! I give the story five plus stars! Quoth the Raven…