the story, or maybe part of a larger work, I am thinking of involves a portrait of either

a.) an alien race

or more likely

b.) the future human race

this race relies entirely on their technology and have biologically evolved with it's use, everything provided. some observer, perhaps a space traveler or a time traveler, or perhaps just a narrator even, is watching this race or arrives on them somehow through the course of the story- if there was anything before it, I know not what.

anyhow, they no longer really understand HOW the technology works. to them it is just part of nature, but it is breaking down, it is failing, and they are trying to show the observer, so he thinks, that they are worried and frail and afraid for they do not understand.

anyone have any ideas? I feel like it was in a compendium of science fiction short stories from the 1960's perhaps, and I have no idea who the author might be. thanks!

  • This sounds pretty vague and general to me. Any concrete details you can recall could be helpful.
    – user14111
    Mar 21, 2015 at 9:30
  • 3
    E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" is a classic story about a future where people have grown dependent on technology and it's breaking down; but there are no aliens, no time traveler, no outside observer.
    – user14111
    Mar 21, 2015 at 9:32
  • 1
    @user14111 oh wow, no I was wrong about that book! The book I actually had read was The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, which I realized when I checked out your link to The Machine stops (which was in volume two). The story I was thinking of was Twilight by John W. Campbell. That is definitely it. Time traveler, future lost humanity. I forgot all about the initial set-up, though. Thanks for helping me get to it in an indirect way haha
    – Waterjunk
    Mar 21, 2015 at 10:39
  • I'm glad you found the answer to your question! Since you found it yourself, could you kindly enter the answer in the answer box below, so everyone will see that the question has been answered. Thanks!
    – user14111
    Mar 21, 2015 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


The story I was thinking of was Twilight by John W. Campbell. That is definitely it. Time traveler, future lost humanity. I completely forgot the initial set-up, and totally had the book I thought it was in (World's Best Science Fiction 1969) wrong.

  • 2
    You will be able to accept your answer in roughly 48 hours. Thank you for posting it and welcome!
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 21, 2015 at 13:34

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