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Friday, March 4, 2011


E.M. Forster is another of the dozens of important authors whom I know very little about.  By recommendation of a Facebook "friend," I clicked a link to one of Forster's short stories, "The Machine Stops," and read it.  Perhaps dramatic irony, perhaps just fitting placement (by posting it on FB), the story is another science fiction allegory cautioning against mankind's growing dependence upon technology.

I don't think you can really call what I'm about to say a review, but here it goes:

The story is very well written, and possessed of some nice nuance and human insight, but I liked WALL-E better.


  1. I think that one might consider using the phrase, "damning it with faint praise," to describe this review. :)

    Also, I read your "Top Ten Grammar Myths" link. I have a few issues with it, and I didn't know where to post, so I'm going to have at it:

    8. Irregardless. It is not a word! It's not! It's not! It's not! I don't care what kind of caveat they list beside it. The only way it makes sense is if it's actually "regardful," which also isn't a word, so maybe that's why they created this one. "Irregardless" is the worst fake word on the planet because it also has a pretentious ring to it--and so undeservedly so.
    7. There is only one way correctly to do this. I've been writing, "James's book," etc. for years to try to send this message, at the risk of looking "wrong". Now this article is trying to tell me that the effort is meaningless? I don't think so! The problem with "James' book" is that it tends to give the impression that James is a plural quantity. He's not. I am James.
    2. Never going to get on board for this. God, who must tempt us all somehow, gave English two-word infinitives in order to see who is actually paying attention. The split infinitive has the advantage of appearing correct at first blush, but theoretically, the idea doesn't make any sense.

    The point here is that I want everyone to speak English exactly as *I* speak it. Not a century earlier and not a century later!

  2. "Irregardless" is the only rule I took any issue with, and before I even read what she wrote, I said to myself, well, if people speak the syllables with a specific intent and that intent is understood, well, then it's a word. I remember having the exact same argument with my teachers in grade school (I was bigger dork back then than I pretend!) over ain't, even though I didn't use it. Finally, irregardless is, I think, the perfect word for emphasizing the ignorance of someone trying to sound smart.
    7. I think if my name ended in S I would likely feel more strongly about this, but the free-thinking English teacher in me is all about personal style preferences where possible.
    2. and 1. are pretty much the same thing for me. It depends entirely on what I'm writing and who my audience is. If God permits us to be tempted with one, He permits the other.

  3. About the story (novella): funny, when it came out it was highly praised and widely read. It's in some sci-fi hall of fame somewhere. And, yeah, it's really good, and I think it suffers from the same problem "Treasure Island" does (at least for me): I read it so long after so many others have put their spin on the genre, and, well, so many of those writers put out amazing stuff. The style here is very early 20th c. British. My style, I guess, isn't.


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