Evil Machines

By Terry Jones

A darkly funny set of linked tales about vengeful phones and hoovers

Fiction | Humour
261% funded
888 supporters

Publication date: November 2013

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How do you feel about your phone? Or your car? I bet you don’t think about them much, except when they go wrong. But what if they go really wrong and turn properly bad… evil, even?

Join Terry Jones on a journey into the dark heart of machines. Over the next six months you will get to lounge in Terry’s shed as he writes about the lift that took people to places they didn’t want to go, the vacuum cleaner that was too powerful and the terrifying train to anywhere. Brisk and cheerful on the outside but as dark as Roald Dahl’s finest within, Terry Jones’ collection of thirteen cautionary fables will be finished for November 2011.

Fortunately, this is just before Christmas, so you may want to order the beautifully stitched, bound and illustrated Hardback edition (if we can find a non-evil printing press to play ball). Early-bird patrons can even get a personal dedication from Terry.

In the meantime, here’s the beginning of the very first story, 'The Truthful Phone'. If you would like to listen to Terry reading the second ('The Nice Bomb'), you’ll find it in his shed once you've made a pledge.

November 2011
Fiction (suitable for all ages. Particularly good for Luddites or those who like a bit of an edge to their silliness)


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206 pledges


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  • Terry Jones avatar

    Terry Jones

    Terry Jones is a legend. Not in the sense that he’s a long-dead or semi-mythical figure about whom stories are told around roaring log fires (although that might still happen). No, Terry Jones is a legend because he’s achieved more than ten men might reasonably expect to do in a lifetime. And because we know attention spans are short, here are ten Jonesian highlights:

    • Being unable to stop laughing when doing the read-through of the sketches he and Michael Palin wrote for Monty Python’s Flying Circus (he was the one usually in a headscarf or a bowler hat).

    • Co-directing Monty Python & the Holy Grail (1975), a film so funny it made all subsequent films set in the Middle Ages seem like comedies.

    • Directing The Life of Brian (1979) a film so funny it was banned in Norway (according to the Swedes).

    • Writing his adaptation of Starship Titanic (a game devised by Douglas Adams) entirely in the nude.

    • Allowing his son Bill to do the Director’s Son’s Cut for the DVD of his movie Erik the Viking (he’d originally written the book for Bill in 1983).

    • Convincing us Chaucer himself was murdered by a naughty Bishop, and that the oh-so-perfect Knight in the Canterbury Tales was a rotter.

    • Allowing his love of real ale to lead him to set up us own brewery, Penrhos, in 1977 (it’s inaugural ale was 'Jones’ First Brew').

    • Reminding us that you can’t force an abstract noun to surrender in Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror (2004).

    • Becoming a father for the third time in 2009, when he was quite a lot older than people who do this tend to be.

    • Writing and directing The Doctor’s Tale (2011), an opera in which he imagines a dog that has trained and now practises as a doctor.

  • You might think that there was nothing particularly evil about a Truthful Phone. It simply told the truth, which is, of course, “A Good Thing To Do”. But the way this particular telephone told the truth was not at all good. In reality the thing was evil from the tip of its mouthpiece to the end of its cord.

  • Terry Jones has written 30 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    27th January 2016 The Truthful Phone

    Hello Terry Jones' Evil Machines Supporters!

    NEWS!   The first story in Evil Machines, The Truthful Phone is being adapted into a film! 

    Taking inspiration from both the Evil Machines story and Terry’s screenplay for Labyrinth, the adaptation is a rollicking comedy with Mae Morris at the core of this tale of mischief and mayhem as the phone not only tells versions of the truth - but becomes…

    11th July 2011 The Vacuum That Was Too Powerful

    Here is another chapter from 'Evil Machines' - help me finish it by pledging your support and get your name in the back! Imagine that.


    There was once a very Powerful Vacuum Cleaner. On the side of its cylinder was inscribed the legend: “Possibly the most Powerful Vacuum Cleaner in the World!”

    “That’s the vacuum cleaner for us!” said John.


    29th June 2011 Python News

    Lots of Python related news which I thought I'd better share with you.

    Not that it's stopping me from writing - oh no.

    Firstly we're making a 3D animated film based on Graham's memoirs

    Monty Python Members Unite for Graham Chapman Film

    The BBC are making a drama about the slightly mixed reception The Life of Brian received when it was released. I'm played by someone young and handsome - I'm not…

    23rd June 2011 Evil Machines

    Pondering the new book I've been reminded of some other Evil Machines or rather Evil Machine makers I wrote about in the Guardian a couple of years ago. Here's the piece:


    Dear arms industry,

    Congratulations! At this time of economic crisis, when everyone is tightening their belts and reducing expenditure because of the monetary meltdown, you're the one industry that's still expanding. According…

    9th May 2011 Hello, Good Evening and Welcome

    Well how lovely to see you here.

    Firstly, I should thank-you for having the devil-may-care audacity to buy a book that hasn't quite been written yet. With your help it will be. You can now relax and enjoy watching me write it. I, on the other hand, have some serious work to do. Not that it will be very serious you understand. In fact most of it will be very silly. Well that's what you get for buying…

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  • Carole Cole
    Carole Cole asked:

    How can this be sold out if it is published on demand? Perhaps I misunderstand this whole Unbound concept. I guess I'll have to look for it on Amazon...damn...

    Unbound replied:

    Hi Carole, Thanks for getting in touch. We crowdfund the production costs of the limited, first editions. We also print a trade edition which is available in bookstores after the special first editions have been sent to supporters. This edition is a one off for supporters and any extra books are available through our site until the stock is sold out. I hope this explains things a little. If I can help you with anything else please get in touch via unbound.co.uk/support. Best wishes, Caitlin - Community Coordinator