Fiction as Fortune Telling
I found myself down an Insta rabbit hole the other day looking at a bunch of dystopia themed memes. This got me thinking about two things. First, many people tend to stretch the definition of the word dystopia to meet their purposes. Second, a whole bunch of authors could have made a good deal of money side hustling as fortune tellers. My lengthy yet sadly shallow dive into dystopia memes reminded me of a recent read.
This isn’t meant to be a review or analysis of a dystopian work (although it does fit into the genre). It’s just a mention and a nod to a story published in 1909 that foretold (depending on how you read/analyze) contemporary life. E.M. Forster’s novella imagines a future when humankind has not just become reliant on but also worships The Machine (technology), a fitting foresight into a not so fictional future. The Machine Stops is shy of sixty-five pages and can be read in one comfortable coffee shop afternoon. If you fancy yourself a fan of dystopian literature it is worthy of a read and possibly a spot on your bookshelf. I don’t want to spoil it for you but I would like to leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from the novella, “There were buttons and switches everywhere-buttons to call for food, for music, for clothing…The room though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.”
The Machine Stops (1909) by E. M. Forester