The Feeling of Power
by Isaac Asimov
• Word count: 3283
• Page count: 10
The Feeling of Power is a cool little science fiction short story by one of the giants of the genre: Isaac Asimov. Written in classic Asimov fashion, the story explores the idea of a society so dependent on computers that they have forgotten basic math skills.
The Feeling of Power is about a technician who discovers how to multiply two numbers together without the aid of a computer. His discovery attracts the attention of a leading scientist who presents the idea to the political and military leaders of the day. What the big brass decides to do with this new found power leaves the technician feeling less than happy.
“Aub! How much is nine times seven?”
Aub hesitated a moment. His pale eyes glimmered with a feeble anxiety. “Sixty-three,” he said.
Congressman Brant lifted his eyebrows. “Is that right?”
“Check it for yourself, Congressman.”
The congressman took out his pocket computer, nudged the milled edges twice, looked at its face as it lay there in the palm of his hand, and put it back. He said, “Is this the gift you brought us here to demonstrate. An illusionist?”
Where you can find The Feeling of Power:
• The Feeling of Power first appeared in the February 1958 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction.
• It was reprinted in the 1959 collection Nine Tomorrows.
• The Feeling of Power was also included in the 1969 retrospective Opus 100.
• You can read a nice HTML version of The Feeling of Power for free at TheMathLab.com.
You have most likely heard of Isaac Asimov, but if you would like to learn more about this amazing science fiction author check out what Wikipedia has to say about him.
If you like this story you may also like —And He Built a Crooked House by Robert Heinlein.