The Machine Stops
The Machine Stops is a dystopian short story by E. M. Forster. Like The Giver, it’s all ideas and no drama, but it does have interesting characters, though there are only two.
The dystopia it shows is the now-familiar lazy humans that just sit around kind. Yes, there’s a giant machine which controls everything people do. They have bedrooms, from which they only leave in an airplane, a bus, or outside with a sort of oxygen mask. But they very rarely leave. There seems to be no monetary system or trade, and the only way humans contact one another is through a sort of walkie-talkie, with a picture of the person you’re talking to. Well, actually, you can go to someone else’s bedroom, but this very rarely happens. Touching each other is deemed…impolite. It doesn’t seem very original, sure, but it’s very realistic. It’s very brief, too, so its realism is even more fantastic. The book also covers the stupidity of religion, in the author’s point of view. The mother character of the book starts to worship the Machine, as do most people. But the son (who is obviously the protagonist) refuses this, and hates the Machine.
The characters are quite vivid for such a short story. The mother character is easy to hate, since she is a lover of the Machine, even though her son warns her on the badness of it. The son is hard not to like, and actually semi-succeeds in rebelling against it.
The plot mostly consists of description of the world, introduction of the characters, and then the story of how the son rebels against the machine. Even though the ending isn’t exactly happy, it is hopeful for the human race.
Though the technology is frighteningly real, we as a society are still nowhere near this. And that’s quite a relief. Even though it didn’t inspire me as much as The Giver, The Machine Stops was profound enough to inspire me to go outside soon. And sometimes, that’s enough.
Read it now on your computer! Just download the file and read away. (A warning, though: it may make you want to step far away from your computer.) The Machine Stops.