There I was, feeling - well, clever - because my book is on Amazon, when my computer silently announced it was configuring and shut itself down. I waited, outwardly calm, for what seemed a long time. At last a little white arrow appeared, hovering in the centre of the darkness, like the finger of God: Let there be icons.... I waited. No icons, but a little flag appeared. I waited for other shapes to emerge from the blue haze on my screen. My computer sent me another message. Tablets of stone? Configuring updates. "Fine," I thought, "configure all you like. I'm not worried." I was aware of my fingers, tapping wildly on the desk top. (That's the top of a desk, to me.)
I sat, staring at the ocean blue of a screen teeming with life, whirring invisibly beneath its surface, until a tiny revolving circle appeared; a spinning planet had emerged.
I was late for work but couldn't tear myself away until my screen was restored. So I sat suspended, a fly in amber from a vanished universe, clinging to a world I will never understand. I was thrilled when my computer made a small beep. Something was happening within its hidden depths. I glanced at the green light for reassurance and it gave me hope.
Is this the equivalent of some religious mystery, I wondered, this unholy trinity of hard drive, mother board and screen that reveals its meanings to us? Its high priests are technicians who can fix malfunctions (which happen when I've done something wrong)? I'm an enforced devotee, at heart a heretic.
I thought I really would be late for work, when a familiar icon appeared. Click. My screen was back. A small box appeared, ghostlike in the corner of the screen. Click here to see the solutions found for your computer. I didn't want to know, didn't dare click any more keys, but I heard myself murmur, "Thank you."
E.M. Forster set a story in a future where mankind has become entirely dependent on technology. People's limbs have withered through lack of use and they can barely move. There is no need; machines do everything for them.
The story is called 'The Machine Stops'.