Audiobook - Inside the Machine


Susan Omand listens to a short science fiction story about a young woman who finds herself inexplicably inside a giant machine...

Read By: Nicola Bryant
Written By: Neil Gardner
Music By: Purple Planet


She was inside the machine, She knew not how, nor how to get out. As far as She knew She was the first to ever be in this situation. Panic rises as She realises this. The Machine, however, seems initially nonplussed over her presence. She slowly realises that her actions affect the workings of the Machine, as She asks questions of it, and the Machine responds to her, until.....

We do not ever find out who "She" is or indeed what "the Machine" does, only that it has a "presence", is a bedrock of society. As the story progresses we learn of the societal acceptance of the presence of the machine - it just "is". The description of the internal workings of the machine add to the analogy to society - lots of different ages and types of technology having to work together by sort sort of magic for the Machine to continue functioning. Like a previous story of Neil Gardner's, The Sound Within, that I listened to and enjoyed greatly, this is very much an existential work. More about being rather than doing - an examination of one's place in the world - "why am I here"?

Although quite short, at only eleven and a half minutes, I really enjoyed the descriptive quality of the writing, the use of monologue as She talks, and the good use of onomatopoeia throughout. It helped too that the story was very expressively read by Nicola Bryant, best known as Peri from Doctor Who. I don't often listen to a female voice reading but hers held my attention. Sound effects were very well used to add tension towards climax of the story and the theme music by Purple Planet gives just the right edge of mechanical menace.

This is definitely my kind of story but I can see it would not be to everyone's taste. It is not high action or high drama, but a tale, simple on the surface, that creeps into your brain, getting bigger and more complex the more you think about it and read into it. Whether or not this was the author's intention, I like it.

Image - Spokenworld