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So what happens next, after and , much of Earth’s population interacts with a virtual reality system called the OASIS in which analog objects are duplicated in a digital realm, including old magazines and science fiction novels—these are recreated and “read” by one’s avatar while hooked into the virtual reality world.Cline creates an in-universe reason for the retroactive obsession with analog: the programmer of the OASIS is a child of the 1980s.It’s called a book.” Twenty-five years later, given our actual onscreen-reading habits, the answer to Asimov’s riddle is less obvious.
Back in 1984, the brainiest member of the Ghostbusters—Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis)—anticipating a millennial deluge of thousand-word think pieces, online and otherwise, told us “print is dead.” So, is it?
From the book bonfires of Ray Bradbury’s , the future of the book—in literature, cinema and television alike—is not a happy one.
Instead, she posits there’s “…something about the tangibility of pages…and what we know about information and the way we process information is that we think spatially.” She then elaborates on the idea that reading comprehension might be better, or at least, preserved better in our brains from the experience of a physical book versus a screen.
Asimov’s slick little riddle, aside from providing reassurance to his audience, was also a response to a decade of technological breakthrough, as the personal computer of sci-fi’s collective imagination became a reality.
Well before we got e-readers in the real world, most of the reading in science fiction happened on screen.
And now we’ve arrived at the future: we read from screens, every day, all the time.Maria Konnikova, speaking to the Slate podcast, the Gist, last year, thinks the answer is “maybe.” “We do know that certain ways of presenting text are easier than others.And the traditional book format, believe it or not, has been shown to be one of the best ways for our eyes to read.” Konnikova takes great pains to point out that she doesn’t necessarily think reading from a screen is than reading from a page, and is careful to push the notion of direct light versus reflected light out of the debate.Science fiction had imagined it, and so it came to pass.So, what else does our literature of the future tell of us of the book? Will it remain the “most effective, easy storage device”?Science fiction’s preoccupation with futuristic reading achieves real depth in the 2014 novel is science fiction at its best, and in many ways, is the first time the reading dystopias of other science fiction narratives are sufficiently explained.In Graedon’s world, a tech company called Synchronicity Inc.Speaking to the American Booksellers Association in 1989, science fiction demi-god Isaac Asimov asked his audience to imagine a sci-fi information storage device that, “Can go anywhere, and is totally portable.Something that can be started and stopped at will along its data stream, allowing the user to access the information in an effective, easy manner.” After what I imagine was a dramatic pause, Asimov answered his own sci-fi riddle: “We have this device.Inarguably the , because he knows of Kirk’s “fondness for antiques”: in Star Trek’s 23rd-century future, real books are curiosities of the distant past.This kind of winking hyperbole is everywhere in pop sci-fi, where the medium isn’t just the message, but also the gag.