Is this all there is? Where does our hope in a better future lie? My first graphic novel effort, called The Blessed Machine, grapples with this age-old and universal question.
Twenty years ago, I read E.M. Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops”, written in 1908. Although a romantic writer, Forster took one stab at science fiction, and I was taken aback by his prescient prediction of our dependence on technology, anticipating streaming video, the internet and social media. His dystopian future does not end well and, ironically, a few years later mechanized warfare ravaged the European continent, fulfilling, in part, his prophetic vision of the destructive power of machines
Countless fictional stories have explored a future in which man is enslaved to technology, or his technological Tower of Babel collapses. Forster doesn’t bother detailing the event which forces mankind underground and makes him fully dependent on a Machine. When I started a script in 2001, based in part on his short story, I used the imminent completion of the CERN super collider as my inciting incident. The pursuit of the Higgs Boson particle (called the God Particle) is one of the collider’s first objectives, which makes the point we can be tempted to view technology as our savior.
Since writing the first draft, films such as The Matrix, WALL-E, AI, Ex Machina, Avengers: Ultra, Passengers, and I, Robot have all explored similar themes. But there was something deeper, something metaphysical in Forster, that these films lack.
As you know by now, I am the publisher of the new comic book and graphic novel venture called Cave Pictures Publishing. As we surveyed stories we felt were aligned with our vision, I was thrilled to find accomplished comics author and illustrator Jesse Hamm willing to convert my screenplay to a comic series, entitled The Blessed Machine.
Jesse agreed the big question in life we all need to answer is whether this is all there is … whether there is something else beyond the material world that is just as real as that which we can measure, explore, see and build. C.S. Lewis’ twin tales “The Great Divorce” and The Space Trilogy, notably its final book, That Hideous Strength, were my guides to creatively exploring this question. I’ve noticed similar themes recently in stories by M. Night Shyamalan, Scott Derrickson, Christopher Nolan and Jeff Nichols.
Is this all there is? If so, then it’s no surprise depression, suicide and other self-destructive behavior is on the rise. As we become more isolated from each other, and religion has less relevance in our lives, where do we find meaning? Why are we here? What is our purpose?
Technology is not inherently bad, of course. The progress from the garden to a city in the Biblical account of social progress points to the divine use of it. But our growing dependence on technology should not be embraced without a reminder that we are not just products of time and chance, or evolutionary and genetic determination.
We are more and each of us is uniquely endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. It is essential for our society to revisit this basic question. Our founding fathers’ answer laid the foundation of our liberal society; our future depends on how we answer it today.
As Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of London, wrote:
“We are the only life form thus far known capable of asking the question, Why? We remain what in religious language we call the image and likeness of God. Which means we can choose our fate, in the full dignity of responsibility, never forgetting that machines were made to serve humankind – not the other way around.”
There is something more. What is it? Pursuing the answer to that question is what the journey of life is all about, and our hope is that The Blessed Machine will help people along their way.
Visit or call your local comic book store today to request a copy, referencing issue JAN191785. For more information, visit the website https://previewsworld.com/