“The Forever Machine” by Mark Clifton & Frank Riley Review


The Forever Machine

Author: Mark Clifton & Frank Riley

Release Date: August 1954

** spoiler alert ** Often called the worst book to ever win a Hugo award, this was a bit of a roller coaster in terms of quality. The story is about a telepathic guy who helps design a machine that may lead to immortality.

The book begins with a great scene where the main character (then a child) is being tested for ESP; unfortunately the rest of the book doesn’t maintain that level of originality or suspense. The last few pages do however provide a nice solution (predicting many of the arguments people would cite for net neutrality 60 years later), though as critics point out the book never considers the actual impact such a machine would have.

The book is credited to two authors, and reading it at times felt like one of the authors wanted to write about telepathy and the other about immortality. The problem is neither is fleshed out enough, and the two didn’t make much sense together. Still, if this is the worst Hugo award winner, I look forward to not reading any real awful books.



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