I have just read "The Holy Machine" Chris Beckett. This was a great book! There is city based on scientific principles, which is surrounded by religious fundamentalists. They try to replace workers with robots. To make the robots easier to live with, they allow them to learn a little bit, but sometimes the robots try to escape. There is virtual reality and a woman addicted to the safety of the virtual worlds. The hero escapes the city with his robot prostitute and goes on the run between the fanatics of the various churches and sects.
Everyone is scared and looking for meaning.