The Machine Stops, written by E. M. Forster and narrated by Richard Rieman, was likely the inspiration for the movie epic from George Lucas, THX 1138, which bears many similarities to the characters and plot. This science fiction short story is set in an underground world where a monolithic machine provides for all human needs. Forster’s story is prescient about a number of technologies that would not be available for the next several decades, including the Internet and instant messaging.

Forster’s extensive body of work includes many noteworthy novels that have been made into movies, such as Howard’s End, A Passage to India, and A Room with a View. For more on his life and work, visit Wikipedia.

“Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere — buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.”

E.M. Forster | The Machine Stops

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