Writing Non-Human Humans

A Creative Examination of Robots in Ian McEwan's Machines Like Me (2019)



speculative fiction, post-humanism, creative writing


This research paper contributes to speculative fiction creative writing practice through its investigation into the ways in which storytelling techniques and literary devices are used to depict non-human characters, with a focus on robots and androids. This study examines Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me (2019), evaluating the language and literary techniques used to characterise robots, the effects of its post-humanist theme, and the ways it adheres to conventions of the speculative fiction genre. A literature review provides a contextual understanding of key philosophical concepts related to the novel, as well as contemporary discourse on robotics, specifically the sociocultural integration of advanced machinery. A textual analysis identifies and investigates McEwan’s application of narrative techniques, including allusion and anthropomorphism. The discussion showcases McEwan's exploration of human-computer interaction and relationships and draws attention to key literary devices used in the characterisation of the robot as a non-human.

Author Biography

  • Kyle Mackenzie, University of the Sunshine Coast

    Kyle Mackenzie is a Ph.D. student at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. His passion and expertise are centred in creative writing and science fiction literature, specialising in robots and artificial intelligence-related short stories. As a dedicated scholar and emerging author, he explores the intriguing possibilities and ethical complexities of AI and robotics through the analysis and creation of science fiction narratives.







How to Cite

Writing Non-Human Humans: A Creative Examination of Robots in Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me (2019). (2023). C I N D E R, 23-34. https://ojs.deakin.edu.au/index.php/cinder/article/view/1925