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Far beneath the surface of the Earth, Man lives, served by the Machine, all-powerful sustainer of life.  In her solitary cell, Vashti studies the Book of the Machine.  It contains instructions for every possible contingency, for the Machine serves every need of the body and mind.  Man who created it, has now come to rely upon it completely.  Without it, he could no longer exist.  Although religion is discouraged as redundant superstition, Vashti secretly worships the machine ...  Her son, Kuno, however, is not nearly so amenable.  For him life under the Machine is not the complete and only answer: Finally one day, he finds a way out on to the surface of the Earth.

(Kuno, is dragged back by the forces of the machine, but what he has seen outside has turned him into a rebel.  He attempts to defy the laws of the Machine.  To train his body for rigorous physical activity, although all actual physical movement is forbidden as vulgar and unproductive of ideas.  He tries to convey to his mother the immense beauty of the stars and hill he has seen outside but she is shocked and disgusted, and the committe of the Machine forbid him to leave his cell.  No-one, least of all his mother, will listen to his prophesies that the Machine will break down and that Man will be helpless to repair it.

Then one day, the prophesies come true.  The Machine begins to falter and the underground population are helpless both to repair their master and to save themselves.  To late, Vashti realises that her son was right and that humanity has been destroyed by mechanisation.)

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