RIBBON WORLDS – Why Isaac Azimov Can Teach You A Lot About How To Live Your Life.

Isaac Azimov : Noam Chomsky For Geeks

Isaac Azimov : Noam Chomsky For Geeks

Isaac Azimov, the Grandfather of Science Fiction, invented some very interesting speculative concepts in his long and distinguished career.  One of them is the idea of the ribbon world.

A ribbon world is a planet which always has one side constantly facing facing it’s sun, with the other in perpetual darkness.  The sun side is a desert with temperatures hotter than boiling water, the dark side is entombed in a blanket of ice.  Life is only possible in a narrow band which divides the two.

This was, I thought, a intriguing thought for a possible way of life which would be very different from our own.  But then thinking about it, it occurred that possibly wouldn’t be so different.

Even though our physical environment may have less pronounced extremes, we all live in a ribbon world of some sort.

Our planet is criss-crossed by a network of environmental ribbons, but we have learned over hundreds of generations to deal with this, and even exploit their respective advantages.  This is routine and more or less part of the wallpaper.

The narrow bands we occupy are strips of social conditioning, circumstances and opportunity.  Unless we manage to break out of the habit of accepting these quite early, we even think in straight lines.  There are people living in places like Gateshead or King’s Lynn –substitute your own insular parochial equivalents here- who have never left, and it would not occur to them to do so.

Change is a very scary thing for most of us, and life and sanity are  far more fragile than many of us appreciate until it’s rudely pointed out by sliding down the razor blade of life. But it’s only when we try to  actually do something different that something even remotely different and interesting might happen.  You have to explore the edges of border country, unless you want to metaphorically live in Gateshead all your life.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013


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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

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