Friday, October 27, 2006

A Useful Lesson

Mad Scientist and a friend were passing a paperback book back and forth and snickering. "Check out page two" advised the friend, and after Mad read it, they both laughed uproariously. "Let that be a lesson to you," the friend said. Later, I had to see what was so funny, and was surprised to see that the book was a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. The page two story, in its entirety:


All of Earth waited for the small black hole to bring it to its end. It had been discovered by Professor Jerome Hieronymus at the Lunar telescope in 2125 and it was clearly going to make an approach close enough for total tidal destruction.
All of Earth made its wills and wept on each other's shoulders, saying, "Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye." Husbands said good-bye to their wives, brothers said good-bye to their sisters, parents said good-bye to their children, owners said good-bye to their pets, and lovers whispered good-bye to each other.
But as the black hole approached, Hieronymus noted there was no gravitational effect. He studied it more closely and announced, with a chuckle, that it was not a black hole after all.
"It's nothing," he said. "Just an ordinary asteroid someone has painted black."
He was killed by an infuriated mob, but not for that. He was killed only after he publicly announced that he would write a great and moving play about the whole episode.
He said, "I shall call it "Much Adieu About Nothing."
All humanity applauded his death.


  1. I love Isaac Asimov. I don't like his short pun stories, but his longer works are wonderful. Have you read Nightfall? Good stuff.

  2. "I've never read any Isaac Asimov, but my mother was a huge fan." (posted on my site)

    If you only ever read one piece by Asimov, you must read "The Last Question", a short story that is included in a number of his anthologies. Asimov himself regarded it as his best work.