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Afternoon Play: The Machine Stops

Synopsis

We have produced a Style Guide to help editors follow a standard format when editing a listing. If you are unsure how best to edit this programme please take a moment to read it.
EM Forster's story, written at the beginning of the last century, takes place in a future where people can only communicate through a machine - much like the internet today - and technology has become an all-powerful god.

A mother and son's attempts at real communication are the basis for EM Forster's harrowing vision of a subterranean future.

The Machine Stops
2.15pm R4 It is hard to believe that this short story was written by EM Forster before the First World War when it includes a mechanical system that can only be described as an early version of e-mail. The human race is living beneath the earth's surface, communicating via the multifaceted technologies of the great Machine. All physical and mental needs are catered for but not everyone is sated by this safe and unquestioning lifestyle. A man called Kuno has been "finding ideas" away from the remit of the Machine and wants to tell his mother what it is like on the surface of the earth. "Cannot you see... it is we that are dying and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine?" She loathes his act of rebellion but fears, equally, for his life. When the Machine begins to break down and humanity, finally, learns its lesson, mother and son discover they are not so very different after all.

Contributors

Author: E M Forster
Dramatised By: Gregory Norminton
Director: Jane Morgan
Producer: Marilyn Imrie
Sound designer: Wilfredo Acosta
Vashti: Gemma Jones
Kuno: John McAndrew
Computer: Jillie Meers
The four voices: Anne Carroll
The four voices: Christian Rodksa
The four voices: Connie Walker
The four voices: Fergus Webster

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Afternoon Play: The Machine Stops

BBC Radio 4 FM, 24 April 2001 14.15






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