"The Machine Stops" was first published in November of 1909 and is the one science fiction story in this collection, pre-dating both "Brave New World" and "1984". It tells of a dystopian future - 'the machine' has taken over the lives of men and it has an uncomfortable resonance today when so much human activity depends on computers. Forster referred to his stories as 'fantasies' and they contrast the freedom of paganism with the restraints of English civilization, the personal, sensual delights of the body with the impersonal, inhibiting rules imposed by society. Rich in irony and alive with sharp observations on the surprises life holds, the stories often feature violent events, discomforting coincidences. This volume includes all twelve stories published during Forster's lifetime.