The Machine Stops

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.”

-K-

The Machine Stops (1909) by E. M. Forester

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