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The Machine Stops (1909) [pdf] (uri.edu)
103 points by tosh 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

For anyone to whom the name E.M.Forster does not ring a bell, he's more well known for "A Room with a View" and "A Passage to India".[1]

He also wrote another short story which I consider to be even better than The Machine Stops. It's called The Other Side of the Hedge[2], and while it's not as prescient it's one of my favorite short stories and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._M._Forster

[2] - http://www.101bananas.com/library2/otherside.html

I've not read Passage (yeah, yeah, I know, it's supposed to be his best, I'll get around to it) but have read both of what I think of as his Italian novels (A Room With a View, Where Angels Fear to Tread) and English novels (Howards End, The Longest Journey) and, of those, would recommend Howards End as the best of those four, by a long shot. Angels is the only one I'd suggest maybe skipping, even if you like his other work.

As for his short stories and short nonfiction (reviews, essays) I'd probably just recommend all of it, though there's quite a lot of that.

That was great, thanks, and didn't waste a single word.

Wow, yes. Shades of Pilgrim's Progress in there.

> Oliver Sacks pilfered the title, or someone did on his behalf: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19124608

I think you mean paid homage.

For sure. I was just being cheeky.

The bit where Kuno is climbing up towards an exit to the outside world brought to mind the ending of THX-1138. The dehumanising austerity of the rooms, the Machine and the almost religious reverence they have for the Machine isn't too far off either. It's as though THX-1138 was a re-imagining of this, but seen through a 70s Californian lens.

I had read this story on Wikipedia. Very compelling.

AI pioneer Stuart J. Russell recommended this story, to understand one of the dangers with moving towards automated society.

Jaron Lanier often recommends the story in his talks on the dangers of social media.

BBC TV sci-fi series 'Out of the Unknown' aired a pretty decent adaptation of the story at the start of Series 2 on Oct. 6, 1966. (It -was- online at some point.)

if some blockchain doofus says "but when the web started, did they predict Facebook in 1993??" then the answer is "E.M. Forster predicted Facebook in 1909."

Fantastic read. This would be a great Black Mirror Episode.

Very prescient.

Agreed, it describes today's paradox of mass social media and epidemic of loneliness surprisingly well.

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