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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Machine Stops


Long before there was an Alphaville or Logan's Run, there was E. M. Forster's The Machine Stops. Written in 1909 as a reaction to one of H. G. Wells' technosocialist utopias, The Machine Stops is amazingly prescient in its depiction of videoconferencing and life in a sedentary, emotionally-isolated, society completely at the mercy of its technology. In the best dystopian tradition, the machine that was built to take care of things develops into a tyrannical bully that seizes political power, then assumes the mantle of a false god which everyone worships for fear of being declared 'unmechanical' which is punished with homelessness.


It's a classic story, well told and very much ahead of its time.

A UK science fiction TV show called Out of the Unknown did a TV adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic dystopian story The Machine Stops in 1966 and you can watch it now thanks to Google Video.



A Few Links Where you can find a copy of The Machine Stops to download, read, or let the machine read to you--until it stops, that is...

7 comments:

  1. How odd.
    --This past Sunday I was thinking of the term, Mechanoia, to describe my Peoples' Automatic State.

    Hmm...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mechanoia sounds good, as a term, not as a condition.

    People's Automatic State? Sounds like a Revisionist's mash-up of Ford-style Industrialism with distinct Mao-style Communist overtones. A real dehumanizing assemblyline state run by citizen-management. A place where Human Resources is as feared in tehir way as the Gestapo or Stasi ever were in their nigh forgotten hey-days...

    Are you reading my notes with some sort of skrying device?

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Truly Weird Folks are tele-aware without attempting to be so, it seems. :D

    Mother is the AI that operates the Automatic State, right down to a cybermodem implant in each citizen.
    --Yes, yes, just like what would later become the Borg in ST:TNG...sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Borg were a funny, Frankensteinian mockery of Extropian and Transhumanist ideas used as a replacement monster for Klingons since they had become domesticated by the Federation. The whole "You Will Be Assimilated" creed is funny, in that it is a rather chilling non-joke when you look at how rampant industrialization swept through the US and elsewhere. The old ways were rapidly assimilated or destroyed by ruthless expansionist policies driven ever onwards much like the Borg. Huh. Borg as a metaphor for the out-of-control Military-industrialist Complex we inherited despite Eisenhower's warnings. Interesting connection.

    As for one person's ideas resembling any other person's ideas, especially if we're using the same language and rely on the same cultural milieu from which to build our respective works of imagination--we're bound to get some things that look similar. It's okay. It's unavoidable. The fun part is in then revising your stuff to take advantage of assumptions rooted in faulty comparisons, to make those assumptions lethal in context of the game or fiction, and to take things farther than the other person did. It's effectively a game, similar to the Exquisite Corpse in some ways. We each add our touches then pass it along. The final product has little to do with us, personally...

    ReplyDelete
  5. The google video and the daily motion copy have stoped.

    No self respecting robotic overlord would allow you to see such things.

    But we still have Zfrank's 2006 production "Outside"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85JxlRMMJjE

    And logans run of course.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xyi3g6_logan-s-run-movie-part-1_lifestyle

    Almost as good.

    ReplyDelete

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