It seems like there may have been some fear in this era of machines taking over, Forster paints a bleak picture of humans reliance on machines and it’s pretty chilling. I’m sure that if he was concerned with invoking outright disgust in his readers he would have omitted that pat at the end about there being survivors on the surface of the Earth. Ā That said, this is a more compelling way to turn people against technology than another machinophobe named Samuel Butler; I’d be surprised if Forster hadn’t read “Darwin Among the Machines”, a letter written to a newspaper in 1863 that is sort of a attackĀ against the rise of the industrial era. Butler, writing under a pen name, goes so far as to describe a self-replicating race of machines that will eventually displace human beings. Sound familiar? It also sounds like a soapbox rant compared to Forster’s story, which takes a minuteĀ to hook the Ā reader onĀ an immediate comfortable and curious lifestyle, before slowly pulling the curtain of the horror of the Machine God. If it seems a little too dramatic, think for a few minutes about what would happen in 5 minutes if all of this ceased immediately: all electricity shuts off, internet, radio and cell communication disrupted completely, GPS and all satellite function obliterated. Ā What I picture is utter chaos, fast. Forster lets humanity die slowly, and that’s the more painful way to go.

Darwin Among the Machines by Samuel Butler, 1862