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The Machine That Saved The World by Murray Leinster

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"The Machine That Saved The World" is a 1957 science fiction short story by Murray Leinster. It is about some strange broadcasts that come from the future, and the intelligent machine that deciphers them.

I really love stories where the author displays some prescience by predicting something that later comes true! It doesn’t happen too much – usually they predict things like flying cars, or money-less economies. In this story, however, Mr. Leinster pretty much nails something I doubt many others even thought about: the ability for computers (or machines) to go into a “stand-by” mode so that they don’t have to be turned off and on so much. I know, it isn’t rocket science, but I was quite impressed with the idea that inspired the Mahon machines in this story – and hopefully you will be too!

Non-Spoiler Summary

Antique TV by ajmexico, CC 2.0 license

In 1972 some really powerful broadcasts are received by the machines of Earth. Nearly all of those machines blow fuses when they pick up the emanations – except for the latest top-secret military machines that are equipped with Mahon units. These units are special devices that allow machines to always stay in a “warmed-up” state – and eventually allow the machines to learn and adapt to their specialized purposes. Anyway, when the military’s high brass finds out what these special machines are capable of, they take them out of the hands of the techs and scientists who were working on deciphering the broadcasts. How rude! Oh well, not to be stopped this rag-tag team of specialists hook up their own equipment and soon discover a sinister secret about the powerful emanations. The real question, however, is if they will be able to do anything about their discovery before the damage is done.

My Two Cents

  • Story: 4 stars – This was a very cool story with some great, unique ideas. There were a couple of slow parts that dragged on, however.
  • Writing: 3 stars – Most of the story is well written… but the dialogue – holy smokes! The machine tech guy’s speech about drove me crazy! Watch out for lots of old-time colloquialisms!
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars – Despite some of the stupid dialogue, this story was still a fun read. The Mahon-modified machines and the reveal at the end were both really cool!

Where To Find The Machine That Saved The World

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you enjoyed "The Machine That Saved The World" then you may also like "Second Variety" by Philip K. Dick – about a post-apocalyptic American major who joins forces with a handful of Russians in order to eliminate robotic killing machines.