In his note to his short story, Quarantine, Arthur C. Clarke alludes to the fact that Asimov wrote a short story that could fit on a post card.

Never one to resist a challenge, the Good Doctor Asimov had written the first cardboard epic. When I saw this, I had to get into the act as well ('Anything that Isaac can do, etc.-..'). Let me tell you - it is damned hard work writing a complete SF story in 180 words.

What was Asimov's story? Did other authors participate in this challenge?

Original Note


1 Answer 1


According to the Wikipedia entry on Asimov, the short story is called "About Nothing" (1975), which first appeared on a postcard and then was included in the Winds of Change and other short stories collection.

About Nothing By Isaac Asimov

All of Earth waited for the small black hole to bring it to its end. It had been discovered by Professor Jerome Hieronymus at the Lunar telescope in 2125 and it was clearly going to make an approach close enough for total tidal destruction.

All of Earth made its wills and wept on each other’s shoulder, saying, “Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.” Husbands said good-bye to their wives, brothers said good-bye to their sisters, parents said good-bye to their children, owners said good-bye to their pets, and lovers whispered good-bye to each other.

But as the black hole approached, Hieronymus noted there was no gravitational effect. He studied it more closely and announced, with a chuckle, that it was not a black hole after all.

“It’s nothing,” he said. “Just an ordinary asteroid someone has painted black.”

He was killed by an infuriated mob, but not for that. He was killed only after he publicly announced that he would write a great and moving play about the whole episode.

He said, “I shall call it Much Adieu About Nothing.”

All humanity applauded his death.

  • 7
    I've taken the liberty of editing in the entire story since it's short enough to fit onto a postcard :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 20:13
  • 4
    I very much enjoyed Asimov when growing up but his short stories built on a pun were terrible. "Niche in time saves Stein", anyone?
    – davidbak
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 22:53
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    @Valorum: Are there any copyright issues relating to quoting the entire story here? I know its acceptable to quote parts of a story but if this story is copyrighted could there be issues with including it in its entirety?
    – Chris
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 11:56
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    @Chris - Dunno. If there's a problem, I presume the rights-holder can write to SE and ask them to remove it.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 12:42
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    @Chris - Posting the entirety of a short work is (likely) acceptable under the principle of Fair Use. The post itself is also not made for commercial gain (protected by the principle of Fair Use) and is based around comment and criticism (again protected by the principle of Fair Use). If the rights holder has an issue, they can take it up with SE who (if they have any cojonés) will tell them to sod off.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 17:54

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