Monday, January 05, 2009

Reader's Diary #430- E.M. Forster: The Machine Stops

Short Story Monday


As is often my finding of science fiction, the setting of E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" is more interesting than the plot. While everyone lives underground in this futuristic tale, it is otherwise eerily similar to the world we live in today. Written way back in 1909, it's somewhat amusing that Forster would be fearful about man's reliance on technology. If he only knew where the world was headed. Then again, maybe he did. Not only does he accurately predict television and videoconferencing (though under different names), but he even goes on to describe what is essentially the modern day Internet. He even predicted Lolcats! Okay, so I made that last one up.

But does "The Machine Stops" rise above a Nostradamus impression? The plot, as I've already indicated, isn't as strong as the world in which it takes place. However, it's still written well. I particularly liked that the story follows Vashti, who is one of the last to realize the world isn't the utopia she'd been led to believe. Her son Kuno seems to have figured it out early on in the story, but unpredictably Forster doesn't make him the central character. His rage against the machine is a side-story we only hear about when he tells his mother.

Of course, there's the usual sci-fi standbys of technology turning against us, religious themes, etc, but with Forster's story-telling and uncanny ability to foresee the future, he's forgiven.

3 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That actually sounds really good. Television and internets? I'm off to read it.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: It's probably too late now, but I should have warned you: it's a bit on the lengthy side.

Teddy Rose said...

I had no idea E.M. Forster wrote sci fi. I have to chack this out.

As far as Short Story Monday goes John. I am now part of Wendy's A Novel Challenge team. We post about both challenges and events.

I have put some feelers out and have at least a few people interested beside myself.

I think you should continue to host it and allow me to promote it with a post about it on A Novel Challenge as well as posting about it on my blog.

If you get more takers, I am in for sure, then I would suggest a cmpiled list of links to short stories for participanats. I have a partial list already so would help you.

What do you think?