Tuesday, March 20, 2012

John W Campbell's "The Machine" (as by Don A Stuart) (short story, post-apocalypse): North is the best!

This has the feel of one of those so called "proto-sf" stories. And there is clear influence of H G Wells.

Most of the story is of post-apocalypse survival. There is a very curious notion here, apparently borrowed from H G Wells' "The Time Machine", but in a different form. Wells makes an argument that fittest people are those that live in the toughest environments; luxury is ... sort of ... anti-survival. Campbell offers a variation of it: Since north is much colder & tougher to live in than moderate climate of south, biggest & most survival success stories among the post-apocalypse humans will be found in the north!

"The Machine" of title is actually an alien AI. There is a long-winded explanation & history of it that could have made several separate stories, but the important point is: it has tended to the needs of humans for several generations, & now suddenly it has decided to withdraw from earth - bringing in a collapse of civilization.


  1. Story features a steam powered aircraft that could fly off someone's balcony.

Collected in.

  1. "The Best of John W Campbell".

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, February 1935.
Rating: B.
Series: "The Machine" (this story), "The Invaders", "Rebellion".
Related: Stories of John Campbell (as by Don A Stuart).