110 – The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster
In another edition of our ongoing Book Club series, we discuss the bafflingly prescient and hugely unknown E.M. Forster proto-science fiction and dystopian story The Machine Stops. This was written in 1909 yet managed to very accurately predict technologies like the internet, including its ability to be used as a device that can allow people to never leave the house: video conferencing, delivering food, clothes, music, literature and even artificial oxygen all to individuals living in isolation in underground chambers, yet connected to thousands and mediated by "the Machine." A harrowing and all-too-familiar vision of a world saturated with social atomization and mechanized order as well the dire consequences they may bring.
- JD's Recommendation: Dune (2021)
- JNM's Recommendation: The Machine Stops
Further Reading, Viewing, Listening
- Public domain copy of the story: The Machine Stops
- Audiobook of The Machine Stops
- "How E.M. Forster’s Only Foray Into Sci-Fi Predicted Social Distancing"
- "The Machine Stops" a review by famed neurologist and author Oliver Sacks
- "The Machine Stops: Science and Its Limits"
- The Machine Stops: Will Gompertz reviews EM Forster's work
- JNM's review of The Machine Stops
- WATCH: 1960s British science fiction anthology series Out of the Unknown included an adaption of "The Machine Stops" as one of their best received episodes (via archive.org)
- Every show-related link is corralled and available here.
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