Welcome to Part Two of our second-birthday Tale for Our Time: E M Forster's 1909 guide to how we will live in the twenty-first century. Thanks for all the kind comments about The Machine Stops. Sol, a First Weekend Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, contrasts Forster's futurists with ours:
It is fascinating how someone who preceded so much of the technology of today foresaw its effect on us. The British public at that time seemed to be waiting eagerly for the next day's newspaper to bring accounts of the world being discovered and the great promises beheld. From what I can tell, there was a general sense of shared destiny - with great enthusiasm for getting to the future. Now there's a shared orbit around a question mark.
In tonight's episode, Vashti is unnerved by a rare move away from the cyber-pleasures of the Machine back to the real world:
One other passenger was in the lift, the first fellow creature she had seen face to face for months. 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.
"All unrest was concentrated in the soul" - or more explicitly Twitter wars and Facebook de-liking.
The air-ship service was a relic from the former age. It was kept up, because it was easier to keep it up than to stop it or to diminish it, but it now far exceeded the wants of the population. Vessel after vessel would rise from the vomitories of Rye or of Christchurch (I use the antique names), would sail into the crowded sky, and would draw up at the wharves of the south - empty.
Christchurch is an interesting choice of municipality, in light of recent events. I wonder what name Forster thought would have supplanted it. To listen to the second episode of The Machine Stops please click here and log-in. If you missed part one, you'll find that here.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club two years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who signed up to be a part of it and enthusiastically re-subscribed last May and then re-re-subscribed this May. William from Birmingham, Alabama beseeches us:
If you don't autorenew I'll jump off a ledge!
We feel the same way, William. If you don't renew, we'll autojump off an autoledge.
However, even in this season of renewals from our Founding Members, we always like to welcome new members. Please give a cheer for David, just across the Connecticut River from my Granite State vastness in the Green Mountain State of Vermont:
Been a longtime fan, should've joined up earlier. Thanks for holding the line all these years against all comers, it has been inspiring.
Thanks for hopping aboard, David. Glad to have you with us for our third season.
As I've always said, membership in The Mark Steyn Club isn't for everyone, and all our daily commentary on the passing scene remains available for everyone. None of it's going behind a paywall, because I want it out there in the world, being read and being heard and being viewed, and maybe changing an occasional mind somewhere along the way.
However, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including the opportunity to join us at sea on the Third Annual Mark Steyn Club Cruise, on which I'll be doing a live Tale for Our Time. I'm truly thrilled to see that one of the most popular of those extras these last twenty-four months has been our nightly radio serials. If you've enjoyed our monthly Steyn Club radio adventures and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The opportunity to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly (such as this coming Wednesday's);
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry (the latest airs next weekend);
~Priority booking for our Mark Steyn Club Mediterranean Cruise from Rome to Seville, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Provence and Monte Carlo;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, such as my tours with the great Dennis Miller;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to The Machine Stops but to all the other audio adventures on our brand new easy-to-navigate Netflix-style home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, whether you like this twenty-seventh Tale for Our Time, or think my own machine is creaking and gummed-up, then feel free to comment away below. And do join us tomorrow for the conclusion of The Machine Stops.