There was no question that Montie Stein had, through clever fraud, stolen better than $100,000. There was also no question that he was apprehended one day after the statute of limitations had expired.
It was his manner of avoiding arrest during that interval that brought on the epoch-making case of the State of New York v. Montgomery Harlow Stein, with all its consequences. It introduced law to the fourth dimension.
For, you see, after having committed the fraud and possessed himself of the hundred grand plus, Stein had calmly entered a time machine, of which he was in illegal possession, and set the controls for seven years and one day in the future.
The celebration had a long way to go and even in the silent depths of Multivac’s underground chambers, it hung in the air.
If nothing else, there was the mere fact of isolation and silence. For the first time in a decade, technicians were not scurrying about the vitals of the giant computer, the soft lights did not wink out their erratic patterns, the flow of information in and out had halted.
It would not be halted long, of course, for the needs of peace would be pressing. Yet now, for a day, perhaps for a week, even Multivac might celebrate the great time, and rest.
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. A prolific worker, Asimov wrote and edited more than 500 books over the course of his career and was considered one of the “Big Three” writers of science fiction, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. His most famous work is the Foundation series, which won Asimov a prestigious Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966. Click on the video above to find out more…
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Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary. On the page headed May 17, 2155, she wrote, “Today, Tommy found a real book!”
It was a very old book. Margie’s grandfather once said that when he was a little boy his grandfather told him that there was a time when all stories were printed on paper.
They turned the pages, which were yellow and crinkly, and it was awfully funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were supposed to – on a screen, you know. And then, when they turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it that it had had when they read it the first time.
My name is Joe. That is what my colleague, Milton Davidson, calls me. He is a programmer and I am a computer program. I am part of the Multivac-complex and am connected with other parts all over the world. I know everything. Almost everything.
I am Milton’s private program. His Joe. He understands more about programming than anyone in the world, and I am his experimental model. He has made me speak better than any other computer can.
“It is just a matter of matching sounds to symbols, Joe,” he told me. “That’s the way it works in the human brain even though we still don’t know what symbols there are in the brain. I know the symbols in yours, and I can match them to words, one-to-one.” So I talk. I don’t think I talk as well as I think, but Milton says I talk very well. Milton has never married, though he is nearly forty years old. He has never found the right woman, he told me. One day he said, “I’ll find her yet, Joe. I’m going to find the best. I’m going to have true love and you’re going to help me. I’m tired of improving you in order to solve the problems of the world. Solve my problem. Find me true love.”
“The Russians,” said Dowling, in his precise voice, “used to send prisoners to Siberia in the days before space travel had become common. The French used Devil’s Island for the purpose. The British sailed them off to Australia.”
He considered the chessboard carefully and his hand hesitated briefly over the bishop.
Parkinson, at the other side of the chessboard, watched the pattern of the pieces absently. Chess was, of course, the professional game of computer-programmers but, under the circumstances, he lacked enthusiasm. By rights, he felt with some annoyance, Dowling should have been even worse off; he was programming the prosecution’s case.