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The Machine Stops (Penguin Mini Modern Classics) Paperback – 15 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (15 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141195983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141195988
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.7 x 16.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) was educated at King's College, Cambridge, with whom he had a lifelong connection. He was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 1946. He wrote six novels - Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910), A Passage to India (1924), which won both the Prix Femina Vie Heureuse and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Maurice , written in 1914, was published posthumously in 1971. He also published two volumes of short stories; two collections of essays; a critical work (Aspects of the Novel); The Hill of Devi; two biographies; two books about Alexandria; and the libretto for Britten's opera Billy Budd. He died in 1970. In his obituary The Times called him 'one of the most esteemed English novelists of his time'.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Peter Roberts on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read this story many, many years ago, but it had stayed with me. Recently I realised that the future society that was being described in the story - in which people communicate via the machine and where no one meets anyone face-to-face anymore - had some chillingly close parallels with the way our civilisation is heading.

People 'meet' on Facebook, communicate by Twitter, by email, by text. Children don't go out anymore, people don't speak.

So I bought the book again.

EM Forster wrote this in 1909. Little did he know.........
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ms. L. M. Thatcher on 15 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I love this author, having read Maurice some time ago I developed a great respect for Forster's insightful writing. This book was mentioned by a tutor at university, just in passing, talking about children and the "digital revolution" so I thought i'd give it a try. It's not very long, more of a long short story, and it's not very cheerful either, but considering the time when it was written, it's a very accurate portrayal of our dependence on modern technology and alienation from nature.
Bit of a doom mongers field day, but still a good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By flossy on 26 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
excellent book newly printed
this was on A level syllabus and I wanted to read it again -brilliant
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on 10 April 2014
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At last I have purchased this book that I read at school and never forgot! The book is small, but it is a short story for £3! Really enjoyed this futuristic story written over 100 years ago and glad I finally own it!
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Format: Paperback
Having once forced myself through "A Room with a View" when on holiday in Tuscany, and having stayed far away from Forster ever since, I was glad this svelte collection only contained two short stories, and convinced myself it would do no harm to read through the stories quickly.

I was wrong. I assumed all Forster's writing was exquisite but drearily bourgeois, but it became quickly apparent "The Machine Stops" was something else. Bravely imaginative and beautifully written, it's a damning tale about humanity's dangerous addiction to technology, and is a particularly prescient portent of modern life and our insuperable yearning for technology.

Although "The Celestial Omnibus" is the quieter of the two stories, its simple and well-balanced plot evokes a sense of mystery. Although it comes close to being boiler plate speculative fiction, the crisp writing is Forster through-and-through, which along with the sharp pace helps elevate the story into a wonderful example of the short form.

While the contemporary congruence of "The Machine Stops" should make it an excellent read for the modern reader, it's also a sure sign that whatever Science Fiction lost in Forster, the dreary bourgeoisie luckily gained.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Happy Snapper on 21 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I computer friend suggested that I read this book. It is a look into the future from the past.
My friend suggested that I read it and noted all the things that I use and present day, such as computers etc, and then said see when this was written.
I suggest you do the same, it is a short novel so quick to read. By the exercise is mind blowing.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven King on 29 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Forster's description of the machine is eerily accurate to how dependent we are increasingly becoming on technology in society today. Firstly, he predicted in very potent way how social networking over a globalised space became a primary method of communication, almost a century before the technology became commonplace. However, the story portrays this technology as the ONLY way to communicate, as most people only communicate via The Machine, using a technology which is similar to today's video conferencing. Face-to-face communication is seen as archaic, and therefore most of the citizens of this dystopic- civilisation are very wary of human contact in any shape or form, and therefore are fearful of first-hand experience with other humans. This is shown in the dichotomy of Vashti and her son, with the former being pro-technology and her Son being a renegade, an anti-technology Luddite, who sees the Machine as stifling human characteristics and original thought. Forester had great foresight to see the potential impact technology could have on human existence, as his anti-technology, Luddite stance predicted how human life could be affected by excessive involvement with the virtual.

The meaning of the quote `something good enough had long since been accepted by our race' has a very clear implication and meaning within the context of today's technology-heavy society. As technology expands and becomes more powerful, it allows for a culture of convenience and immediacy; therefore technology is allowing shortcuts which were not possible a few years ago. For example, within the context of the story; human contact has been shortened to virtual communication via a form of video conferencing; and that is seen especially by Vashti as `good enough' instead of real-life, face-to-face communication.
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