A very generous individual donated to our lab his collection of classic fantasy and science fiction books and magazines. This morning I went through all thirty three boxes, and took a wondrous stroll down memory lane.

I also needed to figure out just how many books and magazines there were in the collection. When you go by total shelf space, it came to just under 90 running feet.

After that, I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon searching on-line for a set of shelves that would do justice to this wonderful gift. Fortunately I managed to find just the thing, and it is now on order — a physical object to contain other physical objects.

When I was a kid, it was easy to think of literature in terms of running feet of shelf space. Yet that idea is gradually fading from the culture.

The notion of having a physical book in your hands, of actually turning the page to measure your progress along an author’s thought, is slowly retreating from our collective practice. Soon everything will be rectangular screens, followed by whatever technology comes after screens.

Still, our lab now has our beautiful classic fantasy and science fiction library, in glorious print on paper. I love the fact that all of those retro visions of the future are contained in a retro medium.

After all, you can’t properly understand the future unless you properly understand the past.

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