Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Machine Stops” as Want to Read:
The Machine Stops
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Machine Stops

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  6,202 Ratings  ·  656 Reviews
"You talk as if a god had made the Machine," cried the other. "I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that."

E.M. Forster is best known for his exquisite novels, but these two affecting short stories brilliantly combine the fantastical with the allegorical. In 'The Machine Stops', humanity has isolated itself beneath the ground, enmes
...more
Paperback, 83 pages
Published 2011 by Penguin UK (first published 1909)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Machine Stops, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Daniel Spaniel did she though? or did she interact online with many - like we are now - and feel those people to be 'friends'? I believe Forrester is very sly with…moredid she though? or did she interact online with many - like we are now - and feel those people to be 'friends'? I believe Forrester is very sly with his use of language and it directly links to the way we use those terms now.

Vashti - through the speaking tubes and the lectures - may have interacted with many people and felt the pressure to connect - as we may do to our FB feed or on a youtube video - but did she 'know' any of them or did they know her? There doesn't seem to be the implication that they had physically met one another.

(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I don't suggest beginning to read this without first looking at the initial publication date. I was several pages in and scoffing at the oh-so-obvious-it-isn't-even-symbolism-symbolism when I decided to back-peddle and see just how old this story is. My cheeks flamed up a whee bit as I realized that The Machine Stops is just over a hundred years old. *foot placed firmly in mouth* A HUNDRED YEARS AGO Forster was discussing the cyber-age...a hundred years ago when the camera was some sort of madde ...more
Lyn
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first thoughts on finishing E.M. Forster’s brilliant novella The Machine Stops, is that I cannot believe he wrote and published this in 1909.

More of a chronological peer of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) than of modern day science fiction, this nonetheless is downright prophetic in its anticipation of a global dependence on technological communication and the ironic social isolation and alienation that results.

Forster, better known for his realistic and modernistic contemporary fiction s
...more
BlackOxford
Beware the New Scholasticism

The Machine Stops, written in 1909, is certainly a remarkably prescient tale of technological development. Like a proto-Cryptonomicon, it introduces ideas that we can now identify with the internet, the iPad, and even the 3-D production of goods, including food, from information. But its lasting value isn't about technology; it's about the mistakes we make when we start to think in a particular way. The biggest mistake is that of what we have come to call fake news.

Fa
...more
Kevin Ansbro
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kevin by: Apatt
"The saddest aspect of life now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."
—Isaac Asimov

This is a short sci-fi story in which English humanist author, E. M. Forster, astonishingly predicts the internet age way back in the early 1900s (when a selfie would have left you with a blast of magnesium dust all over your face).
In this dystopian future, people no longer get together for a chinwag over a mug of coffee; instead, they are hermetically sealed into rooms that resem
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Machine Stops, E.M. Forster
"The Machine Stops" is a science fiction short story by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928.
The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard room, with all bodily and spiritual needs met
...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, dystopic
Leonardo da Vinci famously anticipated the advent of helicopters, scuba gear, and automobiles, and had well-laid plans for primitive versions of these things.



(Da Vinci also used mirror writing in his notebooks.)

The revolutionary astronomer, Johannes Kepler, similarly wrote of the invention of rocket ships traveling outside of the Earth and this was in the 1620's. This can be found in his novella The Dream, which is a work that is widely regarded by literary scholars and historians as the first e
...more
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Shocking in its predictions - a machine that runs everything and asks only that you live through it - even to blocking out the sun and any other stimuli that might place you outside of the control of the prescribed focus of virtual design (sound familiar)?
Apatt
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“You talk as if a god had made the Machine," cried the other. "I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but not everything.”
E.M. Forster could have been talking about Steve Jobs and iPhones!

I don't know how widely read The Machine Stops is but I think it ought to be required reading for all sci-fi aficionados. I don't know this for a fact but I suspect it is very influential; I can see echoes of it in sci-fi
...more
Dannii Elle
It is absolutely astonishing to me that something written over 100 years ago can have such relevance in today's society. Whilst short, this science fiction masterpiece manages to create a future society that is not dissimilar to our own, in many respects.

This satirical look at a world run by machinery feels like it could quite possibility represent our own bleak future, as we already have apps and technology to make every aspect of our lives easier. This only progresses our current state by maki
...more
Jean
Where would you be without the Internet? Can you imagine your life? Can you even remember a time before personal computers?

"The machine stops."

Disaster! What a thought! Did you breathe a sigh of relief when the Internet seemed to carry on as normal after the millennium date? That computer technology had not broken down because of bad programming after all? Surely there had been just that smidgen of a possibility...

The Machine Stops is a remarkably prescient science fiction short novella by E. M.
...more
notgettingenough
I was straightforwardly gobsmacked when I first read this story last year. Wow. Here is our world, described one hundred years before it happens. These are just a few samples that particularly appealed to me. I don’t want to give away the story and there are lots of other interesting ideas about the future, including, indeed, the idea of the idea that I will leave you to discover for yourselves,


"Who is it?" she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music b
...more
Mackey St
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element – direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine – the French Revolution. Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon thought Urizen thought Gutch thought Ho-Yung thought Chi-Bo-Sing thought Lafcadio Hearn thought Carlyle thought Mirabeau said about the French Revolution.”
― E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops

The first thing you will notice when reading E.M F
...more
mark monday
Future is now; future is then. Old Man Forster decries the cold meaningless of life in the age of the world wide web and automation and being repulsed by another human's touch. He shakes a well-manicured fist at the new millennium, at 2017, except he shook that fist over a century ago, while no doubt wearing an elegant three-piece suit, with ascot, as he held court in his finely wallpapered drawing room. Could Grampa see into now? It sure seems like it. I really get Gramps and his carefully word ...more
Leonard Gaya
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a three chapters novelette written in 1909 by the author of A Passage to India; probably one of the earliest dystopian works of the 20th century, before Brave New World or 1984.

It tells, in a few brush-strokes, the story of a son and his mother in a world, far in the future, where humans on the whole planet live in sterilised and isolated cells underground, that they almost never leave. They rarely and reluctantly meet each other in person and prefer communicating through a network
...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: The Machine Stops is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short Stories. In 1973 it was also included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two. T
...more
Duane
First published in 1909, this science-fiction novella by Forster is a futuristic, dystopian view of society controlled by a machine. Everyone lives underground, the Earths surface no longer habitable, and everything is interconnected by something that sounds like our computers and Internet of today. Forster is trying to tell us not to become to dependent on technology. I imagine he would be shocked at the "progress" we've made in 100 years.
Vivian
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Written and first published in 1909, it is a slow, but prescient view of the future. So much is today, some whispers of what will be present in Brave New World, and some it yet to come.

"I want to see you not through the Machine," said Kuno. "I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine."

Can be read for FREE HERE
Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars. A classic, haunting short story (more like a novella) written in 1909. The story concerns a world in which humanity (long ago) lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth (through War, disease, etc.). Now each person lives in almost complete "isolation" below ground in a "cell" where all their needs are taken care of by "the Machine." The Machine is an advanced computer created by humans in the distant past to assist mankind and on which mankind continued to rely on mo ...more
Jim
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1909, as I read this I couldn't help but thinking of the recent texting fad.


Even more horrifying than Bradbury's TV room in Fahrenheit 451, people live in their own room in a hive. They connect only through something very much like the Internet & are tended by The Machine. What incredible insight Forster had! Let's hope he's wrong.
Jim
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a world -- one that could have been created by H.G. Wells -- in which people live under the earth in comfortable caves in which everything, from food to air to entertainment to sleep, is controlled by a vast machine:
Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the m
...more
Mohamed Khaled Sherif
مُقدمة لا بُد منها:
يجب الشُكر والثناء على مجهودات "منشورات ويلز" فالحقيقة بعيداً عن إختيارهم للأعمال الجيدة فعلاً والتي تهم كُل مُحبي الخيال العلمي وترجمتها بشكل جيد.. فالشكل النهائي للعمل مُمتاز.. الغلاف والورق وخط الكتابة الذي لن تجده في أكبر دور النشر من أجل المكاسب المادية.. وقد تظن أن أعمالهم غالية في الثمن ولكن وللمفآجأة أعمالهم ليست غالية السعر أبداً على عكس الجودة التي يُقدمونها.. وذلك الذي سيجعلني أقتني كُل أعمالهم في أقرب فُرصة.
..
أما عن الرواية:
فالرواية جذبتني رغم عدد صفحاتها الذي لم ي
...more
Manny
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
After I'd read A Rebours last week, it occurred to me to wonder whether this well-known novella was yet another piece that linked to it. The main theme in Huysmans's book is the superiority of the artificial: the engagingly mad des Esseintes tries to construct an entirely artificial world to live in, and constantly explains how much better it is than the real one. For example, steam locomotives are much sexier than women.

Huysmans's presentation is completely deadpan, so it's difficult to know
...more
Petra X
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Prototype dystopia story that, after a hundred years, reads as freshly, as prescient as anything that has come since.
Lostaccount
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“All unrest was concentrated in the soul”

Kuno the main character in the story is dying inside because of the way in which society lives under the rule of “The Machine”, and this is the essence of the story of dystopia. All dystopia strips man of his humanity and denies freedom (like organised religion, you could say). As with all good dystopia somebody breaks out, sees the truth behind the false wall, and as with all good dystopia, the system fights back (the white worms). The beauty in this st
...more
Lorena Rabelo
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Seriously, wow. I have to admit I would never have picked this book myself, for I had never even heard about it. I had to read it for an English Literature test this week, and I’m really glad I did, because the book is impressive. I will not say it is a literary masterpiece, artistically speaking, but in terms of creativity and predictive ability it is huge.

The first thing you need to know is that this book was written in 1909. It takes place in a future era in which people will live almost
...more
J K
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
FAIRLY SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW

How can a book from 1909 be so accurate about the way we live our lives today? OK, so we aren't all trapped willingly in little cells isolated from the outside world and relying on a faceless machine of take care of our every need while we spout our opinions to the world from a screen...not ALL of us. Enough of us for this to feel very odd indeed.

Thanks to this uncanny accuracy in predicting the future, this is easily the most chilling dystopian future story I've read
...more
MadameMelli
Ich hab das Gefühl, dass die Erzählung etwas unausgewogen ist. Die drei Kapitel waren zu kurz und irgendwie wurde viel angeschnitten, aber nichts richtig ausgearbeitet. Trotzdem war es interessant, diese Geschichte zu lesen!
Stephanie
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing story of a near-future civilization, living below ground and connected by a vast network of video and audio. The people inhabit their own cells, rarely leaving these rooms. Their every need is met by The Machine. Anything they require, they just ask The Machine and it is provided. All forms of communication are through The Machine and all social interaction is through The Machine.

Wow, this story was written in 1909. What is scary is that this civilization somewhat resembles ou
...more
Steven  Godin
Did this really come from the same man who wrote 'A Room with a View'?. apparently so. Dipping his toes into dystopia/ sci-fi is something I never thought Forster would contemplate. But there you go, what do I know. One thing I am sure of, is that I didn't like this. Wish the machine never even started before it had a chance to stop. And glad it was a short story, any longer and I would have stopped myself. Good job I will remember him for writing about fine English woman in tight corsets having ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • They
  • Bliss
  • Hell Screen
  • The Lady in the Looking Glass
  • The Door in the Wall
  • The Sexes
  • The Expelled
  • Children On Their Birthdays
  • The Tooth
  • Through the Wall
  • Limbo
  • The Guardener's Tale
  • Wunderkind
  • Lunar Caustic
  • The Adulterous Woman
  • Flypaper
  • Beyond Lies the Wub
  • The Crime Wave at Blandings
1,922 followers
Edward Morgan Forster, generally published as E.M. Forster, was an novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. His humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: "Only connect".

He had five
...more
More about E.M. Forster

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Beneath the Shine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Stepford Wives
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Time's Divide (The Chronos Files, #3)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Gilded (Gilded, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Infinity Lost (The Infinity Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Man of Legends
    $4.99 $1.99
  • All the Breaking Waves
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fellside
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Muirwood: The Lost Abbey: The Graphic Novel
    $7.99 $0.99
  • 2061: Odyssey Three (Space Odyssey, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Alas, Babylon
    $9.74 $1.99
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #4)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)
    $4.99 $0.99
  • The Queen's Poisoner (Kingfountain, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Zeroes
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows, #1)
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Touch of Eternity (The Curse #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Touch
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dragon Rider
    $5.99 $1.99
  • EARTHCORE
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Traitor's Kiss (The Traitor's Circle, #1)
    $7.80 $2.99
  • The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Dreadnought (Nemesis, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dirty Magic (Prospero's War, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Red Knight Falling (Harmony Black, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Zoo City
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Unmasked (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation, #3)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Afterlife
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Unseen (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • The Dwarves (The Dwarves, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unbroken Line of the Moon (Sagan om Valhalla #4; Valhalla #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Blackfish City
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Supernatural: Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting
    $8.49 $1.99
  • Silvern (Gilded #2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Some Fine Day
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Random Acts of Senseless Violence
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Mystic (Mystic, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Uprooted
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Wormhole (The Rho Agenda, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga, #2)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last Adventure of Constance Verity
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Traveler (Fourth Realm, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Ancestor
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Thief's Daughter (Kingfountain, #2)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Darkness Brutal (The Dark Cycle #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Marked (Servants of Fate, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Circe
    $13.99 $4.99
  • Poisonwell (Whispers from Mirrowen, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Rama II (Rama, #2)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Chaos (Guards of the Shadowlands, #3)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secondborn (Secondborn, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Rama Revealed (Rama, #4)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Red Wyvern (The Dragon Mage, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time's Edge (The Chronos Files, #2)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Brazen (Gilded #3)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Everyone Knows You Go Home
    $5.99 $1.99
  • (R)evolution (Phoenix Horizon #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Girl in the Shadows (Cirque American #2)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • How to Train Your Dragon
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Wretched of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood, #1)
    $4.49 $1.99
“You talk as if a god had made the Machine," cried the other. "I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but not everything.” 22 likes
“Few travelled in these days, for, thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over. Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking? Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.” 9 likes
More quotes…