The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. free domain . There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk–that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh–a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs.

There were buttons and switches everywhere–buttons to call for food for music, for

clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature, and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends.

The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.

An electric bell rang.

The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.

“I suppose I must see who it is”, she thought, and set her chair in motion. The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately.

“Who is it?” she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often.