A story for our times? (Post 38)

One of the greatest writers of science fiction was Isaac Asimov. He is probably best known for his “Robot” series and his “Foundation” novels. He was however a prolific writer of short stories [that is, he wrote a lot of them].

Very often it is the content of science fiction stories that attracts its readers, rather than the style. That is probably true of Asimov’s work as well, although his style is pleasingly easy to read.

It is interesting to see what sci-fi writers guessed correctly about the future (as it was to them) and what they got wrong. In the story to which I’m attaching a link, which he wrote in 1951, Asimov imagines a mechanical teacher rather than a computerised one, and – unsurprisingly, I think – had no concept of the Internet. He also still works in “old fashioned” fractions, rather than decimals.

Despite all that, however, the story still speaks to us, in my view. Asimov sets it in 2157; he would have been surprised, perhaps, to know that it already has a resonance for us in 2021. When you read it, spare a thought for what school-age pupils are missing out on, during this Covid19-related “lockdown”.

Press Ctrl and click on the link to go to the story’s site.

The Fun They Had (visual-memory.co.uk)

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