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Machine Breakers

A non fiction book by

Machine Breakers is the story of the notorious Luddite Rages Crusoe, "as told in his own words." It takes place at the turn of the 20th century, but history has gone berserk and the era is not the prewar world as we know it. Instead it is a strange, dark, post-Orwellian world in which an almost 21st century technology is linked to a social organization that exemplifies the worst of the abuses of the 19th century's Industrial Revolution, and in which the teeming masses of Europe and America spend most of their lives slaving in mega-factories.

At the top of the social pyramid is a relative handful of wealthy technocrats who dominate the rest of the population and control society with an iron hand. At the bottom of the pyramid are countless millions of drones living empty, violent lives. But there is also a third force in this world, small in numbers but sizable in impact.

These are the descendants of the Luddites who, like the Luddites once themselves, are called "Machine Breakers." Through an underground network they are the only force in society standing between the few at the top and the many at the bottom, who consider them heroes.

But to the ruling elite, the Machine Breakers are arch criminals who threaten the very core of social order, and as such must be hunted and killed. The novel tells the story of the final reckoning, the end game between the two forces, one pledged to monolithic control, the other pledged to smashing the machinery of society to pieces.

The reason the book is set in its specific time-frame owes to historical fact, really to historical anomaly, because one of the greatest inventions of history failed to launch a revolution that was delayed for about a hundred years. This was the computer, which was actually invented in the early part of the 19th century by Charles Babbage.

The Difference Engine, as Babbage called one of the two types computers he invented, relied on a series of intricate mechanical parts driven by motors instead of electron tubes to make its computations. Nevertheless the Difference Engine was roughly equal in computing power to the early computers developed during World War Two.

Though Babbage was able to build a single working prototype of his computer, he did not develop it further or put it into mass production. This wasn't because the technology didn't exist, but simply because he was more inventor than businessman. Had Babbage been a more effective entrepreneur, the computer -- in something much like the form we know it today -- might well have come into being up to a century before its modern appearance.

In the plot scheme of Machine Breakers, however, Babbage was able to refine the prototype of his Difference Engine in time to influence a pivotal historical event -- the Battle of Waterloo. Unlike in actual history, where this battle ended French hegemony and brought about the supremacy not only of Britain but of the modes of government Britain represented, Waterloo in Machine Breakers ended with Napoleon's forces victorious.

In Machine Breakers, the age of the super-machine has dawned and Luddism has grown into the only true political movement around, even if it can't exist out in the open. The prospect for the future of humanity also looks grim, with the technocracy at the top of the social pyramid now possessing the prototype of a new type of machine -- a machine to end all machines.

Once this mega-machine becomes operational, humanity's perpetual enslavement will be a likely outcome. The stage is set for the ultimate confrontation between the two poles, with millennial implications. Regardless of which side wins or loses, the dawn of a new historical era is a certainty in this unconventional alternative technothriller.

Used availability for David Alexander's Machine Breakers

See all available used copies of this book at Abebooks UK or Abebooks US

Kindle Editions

March 2012 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
thumbTitle: Machine Breakers
Author(s): David Alexander
Publisher: Crossfire Editions
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

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