Reading: The Machine Stops

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The Reading for this week proposes us an important question: What if the machine stops? which in our present context could be: What if our connection is cut off?

The Machine Stops is a science fiction story written in 1909 by E.M. Forster. It describes a world where all the material and spiritual needs of humankind are met by the ‘Machine’, an omnipresent technological system that makes their environment –a network of cells and tunnels beneath the earth- safe and pleasant. Humans accept their isolation and complete dependence to the Machine and have become afraid of first hand experiences. Forgetting that they were the original creators of technology, human kind grows to worship the machine, ultimately collapsing along with it.

The story is a surprisingly accurately mirror of out time and our relationship with technology, written more than a century ago. Kuno, one of its main characters, decides to trespass upon the surface and in the process he re-discovers what he calls the ‘sense of space’, while at the same time he gets involved in a very dangerous situation -with catastrophic consequences. Many people in our days are obsessed with technology to the degree that they are loosing many interpersonal and physical skills as well, becoming dependent to the the web/machine and often forgetting the world of sounds, tastes and sensations.

The author creates a story that is relevant to our time and also very atmospheric. It is a great reference on how you can create an entire world through detailed descriptions and a suggestive narrative, helping the reader to visualize the storytelling, which in my opinion is the connection with the contents of our V+S course.

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