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The Future and Dystopian Literature

            Throughout the years many dystopian novels have changed the way we look at our future. From Orwell's depiction of a society that is ruled by an all seeing eye looking over their shoulders in "1984" to a society where the government has all but collapsed to every man is for himself in Butler's "Parable of the Sower". E.M. Forster's short story "The Machine Stops" gives readers another look at a future that seems entirely plausible. In this particular short story, Forster depicts what he imagines would happen if all humans turned their back on physical contact and preferred only to be connect through a machine. The machine not only fulfilled human needs but had even begun to control people's thoughts. Eventually, "The Machine" became a life, religion, law, and government to people, it was everything a person needed and desired. The mother, Vashti, did all her tasks with the help of the machine. She listened to music through the machine and didn't go outside of her place which reduced the human interaction. The reader can observe that Vashti practically worships the machine. She considers the book as a guide of life. Even when provoked by her son that she is nothing but worshipping the machine, she is does not admit to it and lives in denial. She hands over her entire life to the schedule of the machine which responds to her every need. She refers to the machine in a holy manner. To show the consequence of the people's choice to accept the machine, Forster's shows a world that is so in tune to the machine they are completely unaware of nature and life going on around them. To show their dependence on the machinery Forster then asks what would happen when "The Machine Stops". Will there be chaos or enlightenment? This short story was first published in 1909, when technology had just started to contribute to society, and E.M. Forster predicts the terrible consequences of technology.

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