I won't say that I consciously expected their conversation to be intractable, but I will note how delighted and surprised I was when they began to talk again. Because the topic of their conversation was something close to my own interests.
The man was telling the woman all about how much he likes the novels of Isaac Asimov.
I listened to him as he explained how wonderful he found Asimov's books. He was very excited about the Foundation series, and clearly had not yet read all the books as there were plot points in the series with which he was as yet unfamiliar. But he was eagerly looking forward to finishing the books, and he did his best to convey his excitement to his friend. She didn't seem as familiar with Asimov's work, or as excited, so he tried to make some connections for her. He cited the movie version of The Bicentennial Man as something based on Asimov's work. He also mentioned the moive I, Robot, but noted quite correctly that it's not really based directly on Asimov's stories.
I wanted to break in and say something, but I couldn't think of anything appropriate. I suppose I could have told them that I had just come from teaching a science fiction writing class, and that I had met Asimov a few times and had even written an article about it. But instead, I just took out a copy of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, leaned back with a smile, and began to read.
There is perhaps hope for the future after all.
Copyright © Michael A. Burstein