The Machine Stops: Or E.M. Forster does his best H.G. Wells impression

The Machine Stops - E.M. Forster

Did you know that Forster, the same man who wrote Passage to India and Howard's End also wrote a science fiction story? When I learned of this a couple years ago I was terribly curious, but soon discovered it was no easy thing to find - it is widely out of print. When I visited Powell's in Portland this summer I discovered they offered it as a print on demand book, and picked up a copy (I don't recommend that particular edition - it was full of typos). Now, a few months later, I'm so very glad I got a chance to sit down and read it!

 

This brief novella about mankind's distant, technology ruled, future is a must read for fans of early science fiction. It is especially relevant now, at a time where the internet and automation have such a strong presence in our lives. Forster's vision of the future lies somewhere between Wells and Orwell, and is just as astute and chilling. The story is even more striking if you consider Forster wrote it in 1909. I don't want to spoil anything by saying too much - this is a good one to approach with as little foreknowledge as possible. Just enjoy the parallels and the ride.