Oliver Sacks and “The Machine Stops”

One of the finer remembrances of Oliver Sacks. Remarkably, its “hook” is the long early sci-fi story “The Machine Stops” (1909) by E.M. Forster, which I read not all that long before Luria, in a musty but well-selected vintage sci-fi collection that also introduced me to Olaf Stapeldon. “The Machine Stops” is an essential tale that predicts the internet and modern technology with a clarity unlike any other work. Forster argued that all-powerful devices might make us passive recluses, not dynamic adventurers as was the swashbuckling mode of the day in fantasy. When I first read it in the mid-’60s, it was impossible to know how its predictions were still a ways to becoming true. But they were.

You can read the whole thing — in a very dry, lifeless format — right here.

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