Wednesday, April 4, 2012

a very interesting story

Thanks to a friend of mine, I've been made aware of a 1961 short story by a gent named Hal Draper. The title of the story is "MS Fnd n a Lbry"-- a title whose meaning the story makes clear. Read it here. An excerpt from the beginning of the story:

From: Report of the Commander, Seventh Expeditionary Force,
Andromedan Paleoanthropological Mission

What puzzled our research teams was the suddenness of collapse and the speed of reversion to barbarism, in this multigalactic
civilization of the biped race. Obvious causes like war, destruction, plague, or invasion were speedily eliminated. Now the outlines of the picture emerge, and the answer makes me apprehensive.

Part of the story is quite similar to ours, according to those who know our own prehistory well.

On the mother planet there are early traces of *books*. This word denotes paleoliterary records of knowledge in representational and
macroscopic form. Of course, these disappeared very early, perhaps 175,000 of our yukals ago, when their increase threatened to leave no place on the planet's surface for anything else.

First they were reduced to *micros*, and then to *supermicros*, which were read with the primeval electronic microscopes then extant.
But in another yukal the old problem was back, aggravated by colonization on most of the other planets of the local Solar System, all of which were producing *books* in torrents. At about this time, too, their cumbersome alphabet was reduced to mainly consonantal elements (thus: thr cmbrsm alfbt w rdsd t mnl cnsntl elmnts) but this was done to facilitate quick reading, and only incidentally did it cut down the mass of Bx (the new spelling) by a full third. A drop out of the bucket.


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