I'm looking for a short story which I think must have been written before widespread access to personal computers.

It is set in the future after some sort of disease or environmental disaster has destroyed all paper. As a consequence the twentieth century is a poorly understood dark age for future historians.

I think I read it in 2009 but it long predates that. Any help in tracking it down would be greatly appreciated.

1 Answer 1


It's not a short story, but this matches the backstory of Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (original title Pamiętnik znaleziony w wannie) by Stanisław Lem.

Quoting the plot summary on Wikipedia:

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub starts with the finding of a diary in the distant future. The introduction dwells on the difficulties of historical research on the fictional 'Neogene Era', "the period of the heyday of the pre-Chaotic culture, which preceded the Great Decomposition". "Great Decomposition" refers to the apocalyptic event of "papyrolysis", decomposition of all paper on the planet in the pre-information-technology era, causing all records and money to turn into dust––the end of the "epoch of papycracy".

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    One may admire the description of the "Third Pentagon", an organizational unit praying to the mysterious deity Kap-ee-tal, which has lost all touch with reality and pretends to manage even remote star systems while in reality just being a purposeless bureaucracy living out its dying fantasies in a vast underground bunker. Apr 3 at 10:05

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