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  • There is a machine inside a cave which has long arms and is very alert
  • There is a man trying to get past the machine without being killed
  • The book was most likely written pre 1950s
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    And this is a whole book, not a short story? Is the cave on Earth? Does the man get past the machine in the end? – user14111 Mar 4 '15 at 23:32
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    Is the man trying to get into the cave, is he trying to get out of the cave, or is he trying to get from one part of the cave to another? – user14111 Mar 5 '15 at 11:06
  • I can't help feeling I've seen this cover. Were the arms flexible like tentacles, but made from segmented metal? A bit like Dr. Octopus' arms but with longer segments? – John Rennie Mar 7 '15 at 10:44
  • The Cyclops section of The Odyssey fits pretty well. Definitely a pre-1950 story! – Mark Olson Dec 25 '17 at 1:08
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This is a longshot... The Sixth Palace by Robert Silverberg. The machine is a robot guarding treasures. To get past it you have to answer its questions, but up till now nobody has given it the answers it wants. (If this is not the answer, I still recommend the story!)

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