Name this SciFi short story
March 4, 2011 11:11 PM   Subscribe

What is the name of this science fiction short story that has stuck with me since I read it in the 80s?

I think it was a short story, but not 100% sure. I read it in the early to mid 1980s, but am unsure it if was published at that time or earlier. What I remember about the story: people live underground because they are not able to live on the earth's surface, probably due to nuclear holocaust. They spend all day in a chair that provides all physical and social needs. Information retrieval and communication with others are accomplished through an internet-like network. Eyes are replaced or enhanced so that all info/coms are available directly through the eyes, not a separate screen. At the end of the story the main character struggles to leave his chair and ventures up towards the surface. He manages to leave the underground living space, but is described as being like the first fish that managed to leave water to live on dry land, as if evolution is repeating a previous cycle.
posted by sparkatito to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It reminds me of "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster. Could that be it?
posted by Space Kitty at 12:05 AM on March 5, 2011

It's not The Machine Stops by E M Forster, is it?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:05 AM on March 5, 2011

I also instantly thought of The Machine Stops.
posted by greycap at 4:39 AM on March 5, 2011

Response by poster: After reading the story, it certainly sounds like what I described. I did not get that 'aha' moment, however. I don't think I have encountered this story before. Memory is a tricky thing, but several key parts I remember do not occur in The Machine Stops. Are there any other possibilities out there?
posted by sparkatito at 8:15 AM on March 5, 2011

Eyes are replaced or enhanced so that all info/coms are available directly through the eyes

This sound like William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy -- maybe you read an extract published somewhere, as these noovels were published in the 1980s.

But the rest sounds like The Machine Stops, a much older story.
posted by Rash at 11:27 AM on March 5, 2011

Could it possibly be The Machine Stops, by E M Forster?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:58 AM on March 6, 2011

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