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The Absolute at Large

Karel Čapek


The Czech writer Karel Čapek wrote his novel Továrna na absolutno in 1922. It was translated into English and published by Macmillan in 1927 as The Absolute at Large. The novel is a satirical piece of science fiction, and starts with the invention of an “atomic engine” in the future year 1943 which can convert matter directly into energy. Such engines can operate machinery for months from a single bucket of coal. But the inventor quickly discovers that his engine has an unfortunate side-effect: It generates pure divinity as a waste product. The consequences of the wide-spread adoption of the new engines therefore gives rise to unexpected complications in human society. The novel is full of sardonic but incisive comments on society, capitalism and religion.

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