Let me explain. By way of recreation I have been re-reading an Isaac Asimov science fiction novel called “The Naked Sun” featuring said Plainsclothesman Elijah Bayley. He is a detective from a future earth sent to another planet to investigate a crime. The book is one Asimov’s robot novels.

Anyway, to get to the point, the future earth envisaged by Asimov and home to Mr Bailey, is one where humans have completely covered the surface with their buildings – no one goes onto the surface if they can help it if ever. That means artificial lighting and standard time is the order of the day: day and night have nothing to do with where the sun is in the sky. It comes as a new idea for Asimov’s character that the time of day might be different according to where people live on the planet. It is something he has to get used to on Solaria. Then there’s a twenty-eight hour day but the author does not explain how his character manages to synchronise with a different length of day – perhaps he doesn’t. Imagine the jet lag where not only the time is different but the day is longer too. Do you get an extra four hours’ sleep or more daytime or what? We are not told whether there are seasons to complicate matters. There are other strange factors to get used to such as robots outnumbering humans tens of thousands to one and the entire planet being occupied by merely 20,000 human beings.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for the daylight simulating bulbs we’ve installed. The Winter daylight is too short for comfort so they are a great help in keeping one cheerful – less SAD. Having said that, I would not want to be completely out of touch with the sun, the sky, day, night and the seasons. It would be a shame if we lost our sense of being connected with the world we live on. That is one future envisaged by the esteemed Asimov: thankfully, it is not inevitable.

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