Archive for June 3rd, 2014

June 3, 2014

The Machine Stops

hover chair

‘The Machine Stops’ is a science fiction short story written in 1909 by E. M. Forster, who known for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. After initial publication in ‘The Oxford and Cambridge Review,’ the story was republished in Forster’s ‘The Eternal Moment and Other Stories’ in 1928. It is particularly notable for predicting new technologies such as instant messaging and the Internet.

Forster describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Individuals lives in isolation below ground in a standard ‘cell,’ with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global ‘Machine.’ Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity: the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge.

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