Friday, April 18, 2014

N is for The NIne Billion Names of God

When it comes to short stories my very favorite writer is the later Arthur C Clarke,  He could create a whole universe in just a few pages, with endings that stick with a person forever. Some of his best are short-short stories, taking up only a few pages,  Amonh my very favorites include "The Star,"  "Dog Star," "If I forget Thee Oh Earth" and the one I want to talk about today, 
"The Nine Billion Names of God. " 

The premise is simple, yet extraordinary.  A group of Tibetan monks has spent the last 300 years compiling all the names of God, the task they believe the universe was created for.  They realize that a modern computer will speed up their task a great deal. (This story was written in the late 50's. I realize that now the same thing could be done on a cell phone in about 20 minutes. But the story wouldn't work nearly as well.)  

Two technicians are paid a considerable amount of money to go to the lamasery and install a massive  computer and run it for the monks.  They begin to worry however, how the monks will react when the run of names is complete and, well nothing happens. They decide they better get out before this happens.

The story ends in one of the most memorable last lines in Science Fiction, which I would not dream of giving away here.
But if  you find this synopsis intriguing go to this link and read the story. It will only take about 10 minutes, and I think you will like it.
Then go to the link below to read more about the A-Z challenge and find links to the fine work other bloggers are doing.

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