Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Library Stacks of Omnilingual

Featured in our blog post of September 2, 2007,
H. Beam Piper’s short story, “Omnilingual” (1957), is a cerebral piece bound with reading, books, and language. Here’s a neat passage where linguist Martha Dane and her team discover the core of a Martian university’s library:
Martha crowded through behind her friend and looked around, then stood motionless, dizzy with excitement. Books. Case on case of books, half an acre of cases, fifteen feet to the ceiling. Fitzgerald, and Penrose, who had pushed in behind her, were talking in rapid excitement; she only heard the sound of their voices, not their words. This must be the main stacks of the university library -- the entire literature of the vanished race of Mars. In the center, down an aisle between the cases, she could see the hollow square of the librarians' desk, and stairs and a dumb-waiter to the floor above.
The entire text of "Omnilingual" is available at Project Gutenberg.

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