I, THE MACHINE by Paul Fairman

I, the Machine was published in 1968.  It tells the story of Lee Penway, at some unimaginable time in the future, when most of mankind lives in Midamerica, every aspect of their lives taken care of by The Machine.  You can tell exactly what sort of story it is by the extract on the back cover:

“What do you want to know?” asked the voice in the psychobooth. “Everything,” Penway replied. “Are you questioning The Machine?”
Well, of course Penway was questioning the Machine. At the start of the book he’s a relatively stable member of the ultra-pampered Midamerican society, but he ends up running around in the bowels of the Machine with the Aliens, and despite a lot of mental and robotic resistance, eventually destroying the Machine. The Aliens, by the way, aren’t genuine aliens but are humans living outside the normal parameters of the Machine. They are constantly being hunted by the Machine and most of them get killed off during the story. Here’s another quote, from quite near the end of the book:
Another problem presented itself. As Penway lay there holding Collette in his arms, longing for the things a man in love yearns for, he wrestled with the problem – to tell Collette what lay ahead of them, or to lead her into it in the blindness she would accept – a blindness that sprang from her own love and loyalty. Which would be best? The answer came starkly as he said, “Darling – we are going to destroy the Machine.”
All right, this book probably wouldn’t stand much chance of being published these days, especially as it comes in at round about 45,000 words. But it has a certain charm. It tells the story chronologically with no frills. Penway happy. Penway feeling doubts. Penway caught up in struggle, thinking Machine is good. Penway taking part in struggle, thinking Machine is bad. Penway thinks of ways to defeat the all-powerful Machine, and does just that. Problems crop up with bewildering speed, but are solved within a few pages. It’s a real roller-coaster. Further, and I suspect more by luck than judgement, I, The Machine has largely avoided becoming technologically outdated. The notion of a gigantic all-powerful machine serviced by robots is as viable to day as it was in 1968. Paul Fairman doesn’t mention computers or advanced communications at all… other novels of that age do, and consequently seem dated. So thumbs up to I, The Machine, provided you aren’t looking for anything more than a bit of escapist fun.
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