The Machine Stops
The electricity went out throughout the San Francisco Bay Area this week. It was not an act of nature, the will of God, or an unexpected disaster befalling the geographic region. The cause was that the electric company decided it was best for everyone concerned that they shut down their machines. The imposed loss of electricity was jarring. As the final review of these audio segments was taking place during the shutdown, it did not take a leap of imagination to appreciate the genius of E.M. Forster’s THE MACHINE STOPS.
Remember, in 1909, telephones were in place, but radio was still in its early stages. Television or the transmission of images from one location to another was not even a pipe dream. Yet, each passage of this premonitory short story rings true, as if it was written yesterday. Our civilization assumes it is creating a technological utopia to make our individuality a place of comfort and joy. Yet, if we pierce the veil of our own creation, a stalking dystopian world of despair awaits. THE MACHINE STOPS is one of the best novellas ever written about the world we live in today. It provides a basis for deep reflection of our core values as a global civilization. It illustrates how fragile the world we created hangs on the premise that the machines never stop.
ThoughtAudio PDF Transcript: TA0106_MachineStops_EMForster.pdf
Edward Morgan Forster was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy and also the attitudes towards gender and homosexuality in early 20th-century British society. Read more on Wikipedia.