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"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Cleaning Machine Warren  
  A room or space set aside for machinery when not in use.  

William Gibson, as a novelist, seems to have a special place in his heart for machines, using them to add a nineteenth century air to his work.

All around her the planes of shadow in his study, the angular darkness. His hand coming forward, into the lamp's circle of light, unsteadily, to point at her, the robes cuffs sliding back to reveal a golden Rolex and more dragons, their manes swirling into waves, pricked out strong and dark around his wrist, pointing. Pointing at her. "Do you understand?" She hadn't answered, but had run instead, down to a secret place she knew, the warren of the smallest of the cleaning machines. They ticked around her all night, scanning her every few minutes with pink bursts of laser light, until her father came to find her, and, smelling of whiskey and Dunhill cigarettes, carried her to her room in the apartment's third floor.
From Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson.
Published by Bantam in 1988
Additional resources -

I think that the use of machines is meant to invoke an earlier time, the childhood of the character. It's a peculiar inversion, using machinery (and especially automata) to grant atmosphere or emotion to a book. I wonder if those of us who grew up in the period between the full flower of the great industrial machines (I'm thinking in particular of the Rouge steel plant in Michigan, a structure that really resonates with a nineteenth century vibe) and the Internet ascribe feelings of security to the idea of a machine warren.

And besides, if machines disappear somewhere and return shiny and recharged, ready for any task that comes, might you and I want to visit such a place?

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  More Ideas and Technology from Mona Lisa Overdrive
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