A God from the Machine.

It was common practice in some Greek and Roman plays to lower by means of a crane (i.e., a machine) an actor playing a god onto the stage in the last act. This god would then proceed to neatly solve all of the problems, get everyone out of trouble, and wrap up the play.

The term deus ex machina is now used to refer to any plot device that was not foreshadowed, or is not believable, or just doesn't fit, and that is used to solve any otherwise insolvable problems. Someone suddenly inherits a million dollars, the cavalry pops up in the nick of time, the Master Detective had the missing piece of the puzzle all the time.

A contrived wimp-out on the author's part.

Pronounced 'DAYes eks makena', or 'ma-kuh-nuh', or 'MAK-uh-nuh'. There are multiple acceptable pronunciations. Rose Thorn reports 'day-us aches mashina' as a correct pronunciation. Excalibre reports that the Latin pronunciation is approximately "day-oos eks mah-kee-nah".

The plural is dei ex machinis.

On the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 Deus Ex Machina was the name of the previously unnoticed escape pod on the Satellite of Love which allowed Joel Robinson to escape the clutches of Dr. Clayton Forrester and TV's Frank. See episode 512, which featured the horrible Mitchell with Joe Don Baker .

A ZX Spectrum and C64 computer game, by Automata, which was extremely weird. The game came with a soundtrack on a seperate tape, which was synchronised with the gameplay. The voice talent includes Ian Dury, Jon Pertwee, Donna Bailey, Frankie Howerd, Edward Thompson and Mel Croucher (the coder and writer). The game consists of seven sub-games charting the life of a "mistake" that evolves from within a machine into a human being, and eventually dies. Throughout the game you have a percentage score which you must try to maximise. A very strange, original and groundbreaking game, not without its faults.

"it’s hard to decide whether this is an extension of the computer video game by music, or an extension of the ‘concept album’ by the addition of games playing. In the end it doesn’t really matter - Deus Ex Machina is a noble development idea, which points towards a new understanding of what can be done with computer games. It isn’t perfect but it is a lot more fun than the idea might at first sound." - Zzap!64

The artwork on the cover of the game Deus Ex is an homage to that of Deus Ex Machina, presumably engineered by some wag at Eidos.

Deus ex machina is a Latin translation of the Greek apó mechanís theós. In English this should become "god from the machine." The Latin ex is more ambiguous than the Greek apó which should usually not be translated as "out of."

The machine was nothing more than a crane from which an actor in a harness playing a god was lowered onto the stage (skene) at the appropriate moment. It was helpful in improving the realistic representation of divine intervention by having the god him/herself appear at a crucial point of the play to straighten out the plot and put the mortals in their places. It was introduced by Euripides at a date that's not exactly known but at least as early as Medea in 431 BCE and was employed by Greek and Roman playwrights for many centuries as an essential part of their plays.

Until this day, the concept of a god from the machine--an apparently heaven-sent person providing a solution to a quandary--is crucial in literature, theatre and cinema and the technique is widely used. Its use in everyday language as a metaphor for one who shows up to save the day deviates little from the spirit of its original use as a theatrical trick almost 2500 years ago.

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