The Machine Stops

The Machine Stops
By E. M. Forster

SF authors score a lot of points for getting the future right, and E. M. Forster’s 1909 novella (or “meditation,” as he calls it) looks pretty good with a century-plus of hindsight.

Most of humanity have moved underground where they live in monastic cells, cared for by a mighty Machine and basically devolving into giant grubs (“white pap,” or a fungus) while connecting to others virtually by way of a proto-Internet. The pursuit of comfort has led to a paradoxical decadence: a “civilization” given over entirely to the life of the mind that’s helpless when faced with a mechanical crisis. The lectures and “ideas” that are its raison d’être all have to do with history and the arts, and there are no engineers.

Written as a response to The Time Machine, it’s a story that presents a similarly divided world where the Morlocks have gotten soft, and the Eloi more muscular and healthy by living close to nature. But what city would Forster have seen himself being a citizen of? This may be the real meaning of Homelessness.

8 thoughts on “The Machine Stops

      1. About twenty or twenty-five years ago they were bad here. Only year we ever lost a crop. They ate the roots of all the wheat. Also did a number on local golf courses and everyone’s lawn. But they never came back like that.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a good one, and still has some bite seeing as we’re becoming more and more like the citizens of the underworld. Not sure many of them are going to make it though. It’s going to be up to all those hardy surface dwellers.

      Liked by 1 person

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