Read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster Online


The Machine Stops is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short StoThe Machine Stops is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short Stories. In 1973 it was also included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two. The book is particularly notable for predicting new technologies such as instant messaging and the internet....

Title : The Machine Stops
Author :
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ISBN : 9781409903291
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 48 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Machine Stops Reviews

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-03-04 20:54

    I don't suggest beginning to read this without first looking at the initial publication date. I was several pages in and scoffing at the oh-so-obvious-it-isn't-even-symbolism-symbolism when I decided to back-peddle and see just how old this story is. My cheeks flamed up a whee bit as I realized that The Machine Stops is just over a hundred years old. *foot placed firmly in mouth* A HUNDRED YEARS AGO Forster was discussing the cyber-age...a hundred years ago when the camera was some sort of maddening breakthrough that Walter Benjamin hadn't even begun to be frightened of yet. Over 20 years before Huxley was warning of our Brave New World to come and 40 years before Orwell foresaw the coming threats of the year 1984. Decades before these masterworks, Forster had it more right than they would ever come close to being. My theory? E.M. Forster had a DeLorian.This short story tells of an age where everything you need is at the reach of a button. Food(think online grocery shopping and pizza delivery), friendship (think facebook, myspace, goodreads), music (think itunes, ipods, soulseek, limewire), literature (think kindle) and lectures (think online courses and shotgun online degrees from colleges of little or no repute) are all available from within the confines of your one-room home, which is identical to every other home in your entire bee-hive society (think suburbs, housing editions, the averaging out and synchronizing of everything so as to strip it of all personality). People numbly embrace this manufactured world, pushing button after button in monotonous satisfaction. Essentially, they live in isolation, dependent on the internet to provide everything for them. Exercise is shunned and the earth's surface is depicted as a frightening and useless place. A religious devotion surrounds the machine from all who are dependent on it. Sound familiar? As the title suggests, the shit hits the fan for this kind of existence. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I will just leave you with a question. What do you think would happen if our machine stopped? Would it look something like this? is a quick read which will solidify things which you (maybe, hopefully) know or have at the least given serious thought to at some point in your adult life. This story makes a similar suggestion to that of the amazing documentary Surplus and any number of sci-fi novels...that the machine will, in the end, be the destruction of itself if we allow ourselves to continue in excess, shunning things like real food, real love(making), real air, and real human interaction. We should maintain our reverence for the outdoors, for simplicity, for moderation. Step back and something on you own...take your bike that time...write a letter rather than an email, cook your own damn food and maybe even grow some of it yourself. Otherwise, it's all gonna go bust. Please note that I see the irony in ranting like this on the internet, and on a sort-of social networking site to boot. Hey, nobody's perfect, so piss off. All I'm saying is try a little. I'm trying to try! Try it.*steps off soapbox, exits review*

  • Lyn
    2019-03-08 19:41

    My first thoughts on finishing E.M. Forster’s brilliant novella The Machine Stops, is that I cannot believe he wrote and published this in 1909.More of a chronological peer of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) than of modern day science fiction, this nonetheless is downright prophetic in its anticipation of a global dependence on technological communication and the ironic social isolation and alienation that results.Forster, better known for his realistic and modernistic contemporary fiction such as A Passage to India, A Room with a View, and Howards End tells a haunting speculative fiction story about a world that had become completely dependent upon “The Machine”, a global network of living arrangements in which everyone lived in an identical box and communicated and existed through lifelines supplied by the machine.Told as between correspondences between a mother and son, who live on either sides of the world and who, according to the mother, have no need to actually visit when they can speak everyday via the network created by the machine.Forster has invented a cautionary response to Wells optimistic future expectations, one that warns against a breakdown of physical and actual connections in exchange for those presumed by technology.Eerily relevant to our society over a hundred years later, this is a rare gem for a fan of science fiction and probably a surprisingly refreshing anomaly for a fan of Forster’s more recognized work.

  • BlackOxford
    2019-03-15 19:43

    Beware the New ScholasticismThe Machine Stops, written in 1909, is certainly a remarkably prescient tale of technological development. Like a proto-Cryptonomicon, it introduces ideas that we can now identify with the internet, the iPad, and even the 3-D production of goods, including food, from information. But its lasting value isn't about technology; it's about the mistakes we make when we start to think in a particular way. The biggest mistake is that of what we have come to call fake news.Fake news is nothing new. But it is not merely unsubstantiated rumour. Fake news is that which confirms our existing views about the world. It consists of facts which cannot be gainsaid because no other facts are sufficient to displace the views we have already committed to. And it exists historically most markedly in societies in which established power is threatened.There is an historical epoch that was in fact dominated by fake news, the Middle Ages. This was the era of Scholasticism, a mode of thinking that prided itself in summarising the implications of what was already known about the world and making sure nothing else, particularly if it disturbed established views, could be known. In this, Scholasticism served the establishment of the Christian Church. Revelation, according to church doctrine, had been completed at the death and resurrection of Christ. This was the ultimate knowledge available to humanity. Nothing more was necessary. Further factual information or experience was at best superfluous and at worst distracted from the import of doctrine, which might be extended by inference but never altered.Forster's fictional world is one of technological Scholasticism. It is a world of "undenominational Mechanism." New experiences are considered not only unnecessary but positively harmful to this new religion. Vashti, the protagonist, " is seized with the terrors of direct experience." She and her fellow-travellers on long distance air ships refuse even to look out at the Himalayas since the sight "gives them no ideas." In good scholastic tradition, the only valid ideas are those that can be inferred from existing knowledge:"First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element -direct observation."Our modern information technology is the vehicle for just this tenth-hand news. And the effects are similar to those that affected Forster's dystopia as well as the latter Middle Ages. We have experienced the same growing tensions between the governed and their governors; the same rise in extremist views and violent clashes among those who have adopted them, and the same yearning in many parts for the good old days of permanent, unchanging truth about the world. I suggest as a rule of thumb: any news that claims historical continuity, from any quarter whatsoever, is probably fake. Conservative politicians call it ‘family values’; the Catholic Church calls it ‘tradition’; Protestants call it the ‘fundamentals’; scientists call it ‘established theory’; Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue call it ‘improvement’; anyone over 60 calls it ‘yesterday’. All fake and all directed toward the maintenance of power. As Forster says, fake news is undenomenational.

  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    2019-02-20 20:59

    Leonardo da Vinci famously anticipated the advent of helicopters, scuba gear, and automobiles, and had well-laid plans for primitive versions of these things.(Da Vinci also used mirror writing in his notebooks.)The revolutionary astronomer, Johannes Kepler, similarly wrote of the invention of rocket ships traveling outside of the Earth and this was in the 1620's. This can be found in his novella The Dream, which is a work that is widely regarded by literary scholars and historians as the first example of writing that fits into the science fiction genre.Following in this tradition of ingenuity and jaw-dropping foresight, E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops ranks along side as an amazingly prophetic story. Written in 1909 Forster anticipates the television, video conferencing and the internet and its attendant Age. On top of this impressiveness it's also a pretty decent apocalyptic adventure story. Were this written today I'd consider its attitudes towards machinery to be naïvely Luddite and a wee bit much in the fear-mongering department, but given its historical contingencies I'm capable of seeing it in a more admirable light.It's ultimately a nightmarish vision of a world more or less drained of human warmth and meaningfulness by the totalitarian clank and clatter of steel beams and inexorably greased engines. In a slightly reaching way it's like the inverse of The Road, if that makes any sense. The world is turned upside down by functioning machines rather than their collapse. In both scenarios humans become rather powerless. Ultimately, as the title suggests, the machine does stop and since it had gradually become so highly automated and systematically complex no one even knows how to repair it. And thus the fascistic steel world of instant gratification and decadence erodes into The Roadish terrority.(It's a quick and entertaining read. Give it a shot. It can be read online here.)

  • Jean
    2019-03-13 19:50

    Where would you be without the Internet? Can you imagine your life? Can you even remember a time before personal computers?"The machine stops."Disaster! What a thought! Did you breathe a sigh of relief when the Internet seemed to carry on as normal after the millennium date? That computer technology had not broken down because of bad programming after all? Surely there had been just that smidgen of a possibility...The Machine Stops is a remarkably prescient science fiction short novella by E. M. Forster. In the world he describes, humans live underground, as the surface of the Earth is thought to be unsuitable or dangerous. They rarely venture out, and have lost the ability to live their daily lives, or even to communicate except by virtue of an everpresent powerful and global "Machine". "The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms."Each person lives in isolation in an individual "cell", and although we learn that the isolated cells are actually situated adjacent to other people's cells, all communication is nevertheless through the machine. There are buttons and switches everywhere. Everything is available at the touch of a button - food, music, clothing - whatever you like. It is a highly-mechanised world.Ideas are much valued, and people spend much of their time chatting and lecturing on "ideas". They communicate by looking into a "round, blue plate", or in our terms, a screen or a monitor. Knowledge has become skewed by the people's reverence of the Machine. First-hand experience is not to be trusted. Everything must be considered according to the relevance of their lives ruled by the Machine. The novella is divided into three sections and we learn that over time "The Book of the Machine" begins to be ever more revered. The story refers to a "re-establishment" of religion, with the development of arcane ceremonies and ritualistic chanting, and thus the Machine itself becomes god-like and to be worshipped. "They described the strange feeling of peace when they handled the Book of the Machine."Gradually any life support apparatus needed to visit the outer world is dismantled and eventually abolished. People begin to forget that humans created the Machine. Anyone who questions the supreme power and authority of the Machine is viewed as "unmechanical" and threatened with "Homelessness", which would be expulsion from the underground environment, therefore, presumably death. The title has already informed the reader of what apocalyptic event will happen. (view spoiler)[The "Mending Apparatus" will also begin to fail. The Machine after all is not omnipotent. It is a mere machine. Once the knowledge of how to repair the Machine has been lost, it will collapse, taking the so-called "civilisation" with it. Millions of humans will die and it will be the few surface-dwellers who still exist who rebuild the human race. (hide spoiler)]At what point did this scenario begin to seem unfamiliar? About halfway through? Certainly aspects of this have already come to pass. We may still get out and about, but it is quite possible that the next person you see will be engrossed by their Machine, whether they are across the room from you, across the road, across the park, across the railway carriage. They are absorbed in their own world; their own "cell", aren't they?So it is quite remarkable that E. M. Forster's dystopian vision was published in "The Oxford and Cambridge Review" in 1909. He had a prophetic vision of how a Machine could lead to disaster, over a century ago. It became part of a collection of short stories which took its name from another story, entitled, "The Eternal Moment", subsequently published in 1928. This was well before the Internet, personal computers, instant messaging, emails, videoconferencing and many of the other functions he describes with such accuracy, which have come to pass. As well as gramophones, which Forster will have known about, he predicted "cinematophoes" - machines to project visual images - of which we now have a proliferation, but called by other names. We even have "cells" to live in, which may all look alike, in a tower block for instance. Our city centres are look the same. We are dependent on technology. We have lost the quality of patience and calm; our devices have to be repaired or replaced instantly. Even the faceless "Committees" towards the end of the story, making empty promises of assistance, seem sadly familiar. The first time I came across this story was as part of the "Out of the Unknown" Science Fiction series on British television, in 1966. It captured my imagination even then. At that point in time the story resonated, some aspects seemed to be eerily foreshadowing, yet the whole still seemed impossibly futuristic. Yet even so, it was over 50 years since it had first been published. How much more similar the world is now, to Forster's vision. How much more familiar the events.E. M. Forster's story concentrates on two individuals. One is Vashti, an "Everyman" character typical of her age and society. The other is her son, the rebel, Kuno, who lives on the opposite side of the world. Such a physical distance is the norm for this society based on maintaining individuals, not families."I want to see you not through the machine," said Kuno. "I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine." "Oh Hush!", said his mother, vaguely shocked. "You mustn't say anything against the machine."Kuno has a glimmering of a world outside, and tries to alert others to what might happen. He wants to see the Earth's surface. He wants to live outside the Machine. He wants to see if there are others. Will he? The story concentrates on Vashti, who is blinkered by her conditioning. She regards Kuno's ideas as "dangerous madness". Although the Machine was originally constructed to save the human race, lack of human interaction has led to a dependency on it. The story describes what we might call her "brainwashing", her reactions to the catastrophic events which follow, and her brief connection with Kuno.E. M. Forster puts our humanity squarely back into focus at the end of the story. In the preface to a later collection, he wrote that,"The Machine Stops" is a reaction to one of the earlier heavens of H. G. Wells." Clearly this implies that Forster was concerned about human dependence on technology in the future. In the final analysis, we learn that it is our humanity itself which is valuable, and that this should be our measure of things. An over-reliance on technology leads to humans becomes subservient to Machines. Acceptance of the domination of Machines would lead to corruption, a debasement of values, and eventually to a society that has no chance of survival. It is a chilling and sobering tale, and should probably be read by anyone who ever uses the Internet, which in the end may possibly be us all."The machine is stopping, I know it, I know the signs!"

  • Dannii Elle
    2019-02-23 23:57

    It is absolutely astonishing to me that something written over 100 years ago can have such relevance in today's society. Whilst short, this science fiction masterpiece manages to create a future society that is not dissimilar to our own, in many respects.This satirical look at a world run by machinery feels like it could quite possibility represent our own bleak future, as we already have apps and technology to make every aspect of our lives easier. This only progresses our current state by making every physical and mental movement predicted and provided for by the governing body of 'the machine'. Even human interaction has been spared and the citizens of the world live isolated and sedentary lives, where their only relationships happen over video-based technology and any personal, scientific and theoretic progression has stalled.That the idea was even conceived for this, so long ago, is astounding but that the idea has been fleshed out so completely, in such a limited number of pages, and so beautifully, by the evocative writing style, makes this a very deserving science fiction classic!

  • mark monday
    2019-03-12 23:08

    Future is now; future is then. Old Man Forster decries the cold meaningless of life in the age of the world wide web and automation and being repulsed by another human's touch. He shakes a well-manicured fist at the new millennium, at 2017, except he shook that fist over a century ago, while no doubt wearing an elegant three-piece suit, with ascot, as he held court in his finely wallpapered drawing room. Could Grampa see into now? It sure seems like it. I really get Gramps and his carefully worded anger. He wrote an amazingly prescient short story; a sour, bitter little triumph.Read this short story for free! Right here: machine stops, and so a happy ending is reached. A happy ending which means the destruction of all civilization so that we can start anew. That made me smile.

  • Richard Derus
    2019-02-26 23:55

    Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: The Machine Stops is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short Stories. In 1973 it was also included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two. The book is particularly notable for predicting new technologies such as instant messaging and the internet.My Review: As amazing as reading about the Internet, streaming video, and instant messaging must have been in 1909, it's more amazing in 2014 to think that, 105 years ago, the ubiquity of such central facets of out lives was placed in a far distant future.I mean really, what's 105 years in the sweep of history? It's even less impressive measured in geologic time. Electric lighting was still in its infancy then, though, and the automobile was a plaything for the very rich. Much like computers in 1989 and the Internet in 1999.Well then. Sobering perspective on the speed of change in the modern world, eh what?What mars this read for me is the vast amount of SFnal reading I've done in my life. Unlike the readers of 1909, I've imbibed the waters of the Styx and forgotten more than they ever knew about things predictive. And the trope of "civilization is making meat-sacks of us all, woe woe" has moved from startling insight and clarion warning to the dreary moaning of the Longface Puritans League that says not to eat anything that has any taste, do anything that is remotely fun, and NEVER EVER EVER have sex. Be miserable, it builds character, as Calvin's father would say! Live longer, as Doctor Oz would say!What ever for?Anyway, the story's free here and it'll take about a half-hour to read. I come down on the side of that being a worthwhile investment. Barely.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • notgettingenough
    2019-02-20 21:57

    I was straightforwardly gobsmacked when I first read this story last year. Wow. Here is our world, described one hundred years before it happens. These are just a few samples that particularly appealed to me. I don’t want to give away the story and there are lots of other interesting ideas about the future, including, indeed, the idea of the idea that I will leave you to discover for yourselves,"Who is it?" she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music began. She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously. But when she listened into the receiver, her white face wrinkled into smiles, and she said: "Very well. Let us talk, I will isolate myself. I do not expect anything important will happen for the next five minutes-for I can give you fully five minutes, Kuno. Modern life indeed.On the subject of us accepting what is inferior but convenient, interpolating the machine in our relationships with each other.In this world all people live in isolation in their rooms with technology supplying everything. Kuno is her son and wishes to see her. When she exclaims that he is seeing her, he replies:“I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come." And The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms. Seated in her armchair she spoke, while they in their armchairs heard her, fairly well, and saw her, fairly well.On globalisation:Few travelled in these days, for, thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over. Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking? Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.On modern selection of foetuses, which shall live and which shall die, a process during which we believe ourselves to be morally correct:By these days it was a demerit to be muscular. Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed. Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live; he would never have been happy in that state of life to which the Machine had called him; he would have yearned for trees to climb, rivers to bathe in, meadows and hills against which he might measure his body. Man must be adapted to his surroundings, must he not?And, close to my heart, on the nature of the revision of history according to the contemporary mores of the revisionist:“And even the lecturers acquiesced when they found that a lecture on the sea was none the less stimulating when compiled out of other lectures that had already been delivered on the same subject. "Beware of first- hand ideas!" exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. "First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine - the French Revolution. Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon thought Urizen thought Gutch thought Ho-Yung thought Chi-Bo-Sing thought LafcadioHearn thought Carlyle thought Mirabeau said about the French Revolution. Through the medium of these ten great minds, the blood that was shed at Paris and the windows that were broken at Versailles will be clarified to an idea which you may employ most profitably in your daily lives. But be sure that the intermediates are many and varied, for in history one authority exists to counteract another. Urizen must counteract the scepticism of Ho-Yung and Enicharmon, I must myself counteract the impetuosity of Gutch. You who listen to me are in a better position to judge about the French Revolution than I am. Your descendants will be even in a better position than you, for they will learn what you think I think, and yet another intermediate will be added to the chain. And in time" - his voice rose - "there will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generationseraphically freeFrom taint of personality,which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would like it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine."On the modern loss of silence:Then she broke down, for with the cessation of activity came an unexpected terror - silence.She had never known silence, and the coming of it nearly killed her - it did kill many thousands of people outright. It would be hard to imagine something more apposite for people now to read. You can find it here:

  • Leonard Gaya
    2019-03-10 20:03

    This book is a three chapters novelette written in 1909 by the author of A Passage to India; probably one of the earliest dystopian works of the 20th century, before Brave New World or 1984.It tells, in a few brush-strokes, the story of a son and his mother in a world, far in the future, where humans on the whole planet live in sterilised and isolated cells underground, that they almost never leave. They rarely and reluctantly meet each other in person and prefer communicating through a network that foreshadows our modern internet and messaging technology. They exchange ideas, preferably second-hand “and if possible tenth-hand”, since they don’t trust direct experience. The mysterious and almighty “Machine”, to which one can access through a book —a tablet?—, tends to all the needs of this human hive. As says Forster, “Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.” One day, of course, the machine stops.A visionary short story. I suspect Houellebecq had precisely this book in mind when imagining the future in La Possibilité d'une île.

  • Duane
    2019-03-01 20:11

    First published in 1909, this science-fiction novella by Forster is a futuristic, dystopian view of society controlled by a machine. Everyone lives underground, the Earths surface no longer habitable, and everything is interconnected by something that sounds like our computers and Internet of today. Forster is trying to tell us not to become to dependent on technology. I imagine he would be shocked at the "progress" we've made in 100 years.

  • Apatt
    2019-02-23 22:57

    “You talk as if a god had made the Machine," cried the other. "I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but not everything.” E.M. Forster could have been talking about Steve Jobs and iPhones!I don't know how widely read The Machine Stops is but I think it ought to be required reading for all sci-fi aficionados. I don't know this for a fact but I suspect it is very influential; I can see echoes of it in sci-fi classics such as Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Asimov’s The Caves of Steel, the classic short story “Nightfall” and even in something as recent as Hugh Howey’s Wool. Perhaps even Iain Banks’ Culture series to some extent.This is a proto-dystopian sci-fi story first published in 1909. Here we have the human race all living underground to avoid exposure to a polluted poisonous Earth atmosphere (though things may not be as they seem). Mankind is totally ruled and nurtured by a global AI Overlord simply called The Machine. Everybody’s material needs and creature comforts can be conjured as needed (presumably backsides are also wiped). So what happens when the entire human race are totally reliant on a single supercomputer* to the extent that their muscles have atrophied and decadence has set it? I'm not going to tell you obviously but this is a brilliant prescient story that I hope you will read. Pity E.M. Forster only wrote this one sci-fi story, he really had a knack for it. He is of course best known for classics like A Room with a View (which I plan to read soon) and A Passage to India (which I read years ago, and is very good) etc. The Machine Stops is so good that it makes me want to read more of his books regardless of genre. This story is in the public domain and you can find a free e-book edition at and a free audiobook at Librivox. Now all you need is an hour or so to soak it all up!_____________________________________* The word "computer" does not appear anywhere in the text of course, 1909 y'know, that makes his prescience even more remarkable.

  • Vivian
    2019-03-01 00:10

    Written and first published in 1909, it is a slow, but prescient view of the future. So much is today, some whispers of what will be present in Brave New World, and some it yet to come. "I want to see you not through the Machine," said Kuno. "I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine."Can be read for FREE HERE

  • Stephen
    2019-03-01 17:44

    4.0 to 4.5 stars. A classic, haunting short story (more like a novella) written in 1909. The story concerns a world in which humanity (long ago) lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth (through War, disease, etc.). Now each person lives in almost complete "isolation" below ground in a "cell" where all their needs are taken care of by "the Machine." The Machine is an advanced computer created by humans in the distant past to assist mankind and on which mankind continued to rely on more and more until they became totaly dependant upon it. At the time of the story, people do not like to travel, all communicaiton is conducted via (can you believe it) instant messaging and video conferencing (remember this was written in 1909) and people are no longer "intellectually" curious. The plot involves a member of the society who begins to distrust the way society is living, longs to visit the surface of the world and be free from the "assistance" of the Machine. I won't give any more away, but this is a powerful story (again written over 100 years ago) about the possible dangers of becoming over dependent on technology. This story was included in the The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 2B. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  • Jim
    2019-03-21 23:03

    Written in 1909, as I read this I couldn't help but thinking of the recent texting fad.Even more horrifying than Bradbury's TV room in Fahrenheit 451, people live in their own room in a hive. They connect only through something very much like the Internet & are tended by The Machine. What incredible insight Forster had! Let's hope he's wrong.

  • Jim
    2019-03-04 16:52

    Imagine a world -- one that could have been created by H.G. Wells -- in which people live under the earth in comfortable caves in which everything, from food to air to entertainment to sleep, is controlled by a vast machine:Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk-that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh-a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs.That is our introduction to one Vashti (no last name), who is contacted by her son Kuno who has -- Gasp! -- been to the surface of the planet and seen the sun and ferns and stars, before being yanked bodily by the machine back underground.But think of Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamics: All machines eventually run down. And this is what happens to The Machine. E.M. Forster has written probably one of the best and most prophetic of short stories in The Machine Stops. I had actually never heard of it until I had a conversation with a close friend who recommended it.

  • Manny
    2019-03-21 20:48

    After I'd read A Rebours last week, it occurred to me to wonder whether this well-known novella was yet another piece that linked to it. The main theme in Huysmans's book is the superiority of the artificial: the engagingly mad des Esseintes tries to construct an entirely artificial world to live in, and constantly explains how much better it is than the real one. For example, steam locomotives are much sexier than women. Huysmans's presentation is completely deadpan, so it's difficult to know how ironic he means to be; anyway, it's not impossible to read the book straight, and maybe Forster felt that an unambiguous response was necessary. Here, the world has reached the end of the road Huysmans envisages. Everything is completely artificial and people love it like that. But, in this version, it is made abundantly clear that excessive artifice is not good.I'm trying to think which one I prefer! It's difficult. They're both very memorable in their rather different ways. Huysmans's style is more compelling, but you get a rather less complicated form of pleasure from Forster. Really, if you've only read one of them and liked it, you're almost obliged to read the other.

  • Lorena Rabelo
    2019-03-14 18:52

    Wow. Seriously, wow. I have to admit I would never have picked this book myself, for I had never even heard about it. I had to read it for an English Literature test this week, and I’m really glad I did, because the book is impressive. I will not say it is a literary masterpiece, artistically speaking, but in terms of creativity and predictive ability it is huge.The first thing you need to know is that this book was written in 1909. It takes place in a future era in which people will live almost completely isolated in bee-hive-like private “machines”, a machine that can provide you anything you need or want, be it food, entertainment, rest, friendship, and all you need to do is press a button. They talk to each other through a communication system quite like a social network, in which someone calls you or sends you a message and you reply, using some sort of “plate” that shows you people’s faces (kind like skype). There are air-ships, all sorts of devices, buttons to summon a bed, a couch, a reading table, if you drop something the floor will simply come up to give you the object back, and all of this existed in the head of a man living in 1909.The most interesting part of the book is how Forster pictures the future human beings. Apparently, we are going to be controlled by technology, lose our ability to think for ourselves (actually free thinking and new ideas will be forbidden), we are going to avoid physical contact at all costs, and erase any sort of emotion, religion, beliefs, and humanity. Intellectual progress shall be our only goal, and when we have contributed enough to this progress, we will be granted euthanasia. Oh, and we will also be physically weak (the stronger and more athletic looking babies are “destroyed” at birth, because there is no room for exercising in this new reality), will have no teeth or hair. Gorgeous, are we not?In 1909 technology was developing at full speed, and society was changing in order to accommodate the new discoveries. Lots of people were taken aback by this impacting novelty and maybe Forster was trying to warn us about what this new technological age could bring to our lives. Of course, much like most science fiction novels, the consequences of our relying too much on technology are extremely exaggerated, but it is easy to see his point: machines and electronic devices should be present in our lives as an extra aid but we can’t let it control us. Although it was written over a hundred years ago, its concepts are still valid – we can bring it to our present days, our society, our behavior. It is certainly a worthy read.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-06 01:05

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • Petra X
    2019-03-13 21:00

    Prototype dystopia story that, after a hundred years, reads as freshly, as prescient as anything that has come since.

  • Mohamed Khaled
    2019-03-08 23:10

    مُقدمة لا بُد منها:يجب الشُكر والثناء على مجهودات "منشورات ويلز" فالحقيقة بعيداً عن إختيارهم للأعمال الجيدة فعلاً والتي تهم كُل مُحبي الخيال العلمي وترجمتها بشكل جيد.. فالشكل النهائي للعمل مُمتاز.. الغلاف والورق وخط الكتابة الذي لن تجده في أكبر دور النشر من أجل المكاسب المادية.. وقد تظن أن أعمالهم غالية في الثمن ولكن وللمفآجأة أعمالهم ليست غالية السعر أبداً على عكس الجودة التي يُقدمونها.. وذلك الذي سيجعلني أقتني كُل أعمالهم في أقرب فُرصة...أما عن الرواية:فالرواية جذبتني رغم عدد صفحاتها الذي لم يتجاوز الـمائة صفحة!الرواية كُتبت عام 1909 يتوقع كاتبها شكل المُستقبل والذي ستجد أشياء كثيرة مشتركة بينه وبين عصرنا الحالي.ولكني نظرت للرواية من بُعدين.. الأول: بُعد سياسي:..رددوا هاتفين: "الآلة تُطعمنا وتكسينا وتُسكنا بيوتنا عبرها يتحدث أحدنا للآخر.. غبرها يرى أحدنا الآخر.. فيها تكون كينونتنا.. الآلة هي صديقة الأفكار وعدوة الخُرافة.. الآلة كلية القدرة وخالدة أبداً.. فلتتمجد الآلة"...رأيت أن الآلة تُمثل النظام.. النظام الذي يُريد كبتك وحبسك داخل أفكاره هو فقط.. لا تُفكر لا تُبدع.. فقط كُن مُخلصاً للنظام..حتى جملة "الآلة تتوقف" كنت آراها أنها مثل: "النظام يسقط" مثلما حدث في الرواية فالنظام سقط.. سقط على كُل المدعين والخانعين الذين قرروا البقاء في ظل الآلة والإخلاص لها.. حتى عندما بدأت مؤشرات سقوط الآلة بالظهور.. الخدمات تسوء.. المياه أصبحت ملوثة.. الهواء ملوث أيضاً.. لا توجد إضاءة.. ظل هُناك تلك الفئة التي أصرت أن الموضوع طبيعي وأن يجب أن نُساند الآلة وأن كُل ذلك سيمر بشكل طبيعي حتى أنهارت الآلة على أعناقهم.. ألا يُذكرك ذلك بشئ؟ بوضع تعرفه أنت جيداً؟عندما تُصبح الآلة هي المُتحكمة في علاقاتك الشخصية في دينك في تفكيرك وتُقيدك حتى لا تستطيع أن تُفكر أو تقول "لا" في وجه الآلة!وإذا تملكتك الجرأة وفعلتها.. عوقبت بالتشريد! وضع مآسأوي قد رُسم بواسطة "فورستر" في أوائل القرن العشرين وما زلنا نرى صداه في القرن الواحد والعشرين...الثاني: بُعد تكنولوجي:ذلك البُعد بالذات لو كُنت شاهدت مُسلسل "بلاك ميرور: مرآة سوداء" كُنت ستربط بينهم فوراً.التطور التكنولوجي الرهيب الذي يجعل الإنسان يُفضل أن يعتزل في بيته.. على الخروج للتمتع بالحياة.. فالحياة أصبحت مُتمحورة حول الإنترنت فقط.. التطور التكنولوجي الذي قد يحول أنقى علاقات البشر علاقة الأم بابنها إلى مُجرد علاقة ميكانيكية خالية من المشاعر.. العالم الإفتراضي الذي تحول إلى عالم حقيقي بالنسبة لنا...كانت تجربة جيدة جداً.. والترجمة أيضاً كانت جيدة من اللغة المُستخدمة والمُفردات والتعابير .. ولن تكون آخر تجربة لمنشورات ويلز أو فورستر.

  • StevenGodin
    2019-03-06 00:41

    Did this really come from the same man who wrote 'A Room with a View'?. apparently so. Dipping his toes into dystopia/ sci-fi is something I never thought Forster would contemplate. But there you go, what do I know. One thing I am sure of, is that I didn't like this. Wish the machine never even started before it had a chance to stop. And glad it was a short story, any longer and I would have stopped myself. Good job I will remember him for writing about fine English woman in tight corsets having problems with love. That's what made him great. Not this nonsense.

  • Stephanie
    2019-02-25 23:03

    This is an amazing story of a near-future civilization, living below ground and connected by a vast network of video and audio. The people inhabit their own cells, rarely leaving these rooms. Their every need is met by The Machine. Anything they require, they just ask The Machine and it is provided. All forms of communication are through The Machine and all social interaction is through The Machine.Wow, this story was written in 1909. What is scary is that this civilization somewhat resembles our current lives. How many times do you go to a restaurant or a club and see people in the glow of their mobile devices, heads down, not involved with the people RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, but stuck on the world of Facebook, Twitter, and dare I say it, GoodReads?As recommended by Richard, the free story can be read here:The Machine Stops

  • Cindy
    2019-03-03 20:08

    It's Ur-steampunk! Can you still call a story steampunk when it was written in 1909? I just about fell over backwards when I found out this morning that E.M. Forster (Room With A View, Howard's End, Passage To India) wrote a short dystopic story in 1909. Must. Read. Now. Luckily this story is available for free all over the internet, such as here: does an amazing job imagining an automated, mechanical future. He describes mass-market airships, even though this was published a mere 6 years after the Wright brothers had "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight." Forster thought of telecommuting, before it became cool. Somehow he also manages to cover: religion, euthanasia, family relationships, bureaucracy, punishment, and apathy.Of course a few details are a bit off. "The forests had been destroyed during the literature epoch for the purpose of making newspaper-pulp." Newspapers? I'll let him slide on this one; it was 101 years ago, after all. We also get the original meaning of 'tabloid!'The story reminds me a lot of Asimov's Spacer universe, where people become so accustomed to living alone, 'normal' human interaction is virtually impossible. "And of course she had studied the civilization that had immediately preceded her own - the civilization that had mistaken the functions of the system, and had used it for bringing people to things, instead of for bringing things to people. Those funny old days, when men went for change of air instead of changing the air in their rooms!"

  • Alice Cai
    2019-03-12 22:47

    4.25*Civilization is living underground in these single person rooms with many buttons that control The Machine to aid in various functions. Going above ground is now seen as useless. The main character's son asks her to to visit him directly in his room located in another country through a communication device called "a round plate" in which she can see his face. After this point there are 3 chapters to this short story that explores the effects of The Machine on humanity.I was searching something about this book up while I was reading this and it said that this book predicted the invention of the tablet. I then realized that "the plate" actually does exist today. They were pretty much facetiming each other. It was pretty weird. I was all impressed by this cool glowing plate in the story and then realized it already exists. This story was written in 1909.I didn't understand the descriptions sometimes and it ruined the book a little. I real several lines over and over again and I still wasn't completely sure what the situation looked like. I probably have to search this book up for a full explanation. I got most of the general ideas, but for some parts the actual situation for these concepts were confusing. I don't know if it's just me, but I honestly think the description is kinda bad for this. I think a few things that needed to be explained were left out."Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It was robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops - but not on our lies. The Machine proceeds - but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die."

  • J K
    2019-03-18 20:56

    FAIRLY SPOILER-FILLED REVIEWHow can a book from 1909 be so accurate about the way we live our lives today? OK, so we aren't all trapped willingly in little cells isolated from the outside world and relying on a faceless machine of take care of our every need while we spout our opinions to the world from a screen...not ALL of us. Enough of us for this to feel very odd indeed.Thanks to this uncanny accuracy in predicting the future, this is easily the most chilling dystopian future story I've read. It's not "1984", which takes ennui, despair and Government control in very different direction. No, this is the self-inflicted hell of regressing to childhood willingly. The humans in "The Machine Stops" are coddled into inhumanity, much like the humans on the spaceship in Pixar's WALL-E movie. Moving around and doing anything for yourself has become socially distasteful, and the main protagonist, Vashti, exists purely to converse via screen (Web cams, anyone?) and to discuss and produce her 'ideas'. The overall aim of her culture is to make true experience obsolete, to only an understanding of historical events through the understanding of the current generation. Vashti's disconnect from normal human emotions of awe and things that are best shown during her reluctant journey to visit her son, who lives far away across the world. Here she takes a trip in an airship which passes over the Himalayas. She refuses to be inspired and all the other passengers find the view disgusting. This is because most humans live beneath the earth in these cell like cubicles, which is something echoed on television recently, by Charlie Brooker in his Black Mirror episode '15 Million Credits'. Humans rules by television and their interactive screens and disconnected from the real world is an ever more realistic scenario. Most terrifyingly, the story reminds us that this state of things cannot go on. the pinnacle of human civilization will corrupt and fail, as all human civilizations seem to have done before us. Predicting that one day the machine WILL stop, the story ends on the question - and THEN what will we dependent children all do?Truly chilling. Very highly recommended.

  • Kaethe
    2019-03-11 20:11

    This comes out of the same place as both Wells' The Time Machine and Wall-e: technology will enable people to become apathetic slugs, and boring as all hell. The structure of the story means there's no need to ever explain how this world is supposed to work (what does the Machine need all these people for?) It's interesting that Forster could imagine a world where women could pursue the life of the mind unimpeded by the demands of family, but not one in which people would touch for the sheer animal pleasure. There aren't any pets, even.Richard made me read it. His review is really worthwhile: copy.

  • Lostaccount
    2019-03-12 17:01

    “All unrest was concentrated in the soul” Kuno the main character in the story is dying inside because of the way in which society lives under the rule of “The Machine”, and this is the essence of the story of dystopia. All dystopia strips man of his humanity and denies freedom (like organised religion, you could say). As with all good dystopia somebody breaks out, sees the truth behind the false wall, and as with all good dystopia, the system fights back (the white worms). The beauty in this story is in the heartfelt writing. And it’s incredible how prophetic this is, especially when you consider it was published in 1928. Who knew we’d end up spending most of our lives sitting in front of electronic machines like worshippers at a throne? Well, Forster did. What a wonderful story!

  • Trelawn
    2019-02-27 23:49

    An interesting read quite different from Forster's other books. It speaks of a time when humanity isolates itself from physical contact with others. Communication is conducted through technology and that is how ideas are spread. People rarely travel as everywhere is the same. But among the bleak landscape there are glimmers of hope as some humans still strive for direct contact and to reconnect with the real world. My experience of the book was diminished slightly by the bad editing of this edition. It is not a bad story but I certainly prefer his mainstream works.

  • Marts(Thinker)
    2019-03-03 20:53

    A science ficton short story written by E.M. Foster in 1909. This tells the tale of a world where most of the population can no longer live at the surface and each individual dwells in a 'cell' below the Earth. Here all needs are met via 'the Machine'...As the tale progresses the machine begins to mal-function...The protagonists of the tale are Vashti and her son Kuno.