Daily Illuminator

March 2, 2005: Apologies To Sir Arthur

The story I was thinking of yesterday was not by Asimov, but by Arthur C. Clarke, who is (at the moment) better known for predicting, and thus basically inventing, the communications satellite. My thanks to Matthew Hasselbacher, who was not only the first to correct me but provided detailed bibliographical information. The short story in question, "Seeker of the Sphinx," was first published in Two Complete Science-Adventure Books in 1951. Retitled "The Road to the Sea," it was collected in Tales of Ten Worlds, and later in The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke.

'You see,' she said proudly, 'wherever I go now I can have music with me. Jon says there are so many thousands of hours of it stored up that I'll never know when it repeats itself. Isn't it clever?'
'Perhaps it is,' said Brant grudgingly, 'but it isn't exactly new. Everyone used to carry this sort of thing once, until there was no silence anywhere on Earth and they had to be forbidden. Just think of the chaos if we all had them!'

Clarke later commented: "I'm amused to see that I predicted not only the invention of ultra-portable music players, but also the fact that they would quickly become such a public menace they would be banned. The second part of this prophecy, alas, has not yet been fulfilled."
-- Steve Jackson
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