| "Good evening, Spalding!" said Patterson as we settled down with our drinks. "What have you got there?"
The base's AI-controlled lighting system had been set to mimic circadian rhythms, and the perimeter lights were dimming in the manner of a summer evening. Beyond the floor-to-ceiling window of the lounge Earth shimmered like a promise of life, in beautiful contrast to the gray surface of the moon it hung above.
"Watership Down," replied Spalding, holding the tawny paperback up for us all to see. "It's my favorite book. I brought it along from home."
"Man, why would you waste storage space on that, when the 'net has every book ever written uploaded?"
Patterson was new to Port Cordial, the official lunar tourist hub. Spalding, a damn good guide, had been here four years ago when I had first signed on and that ancient paperback had been on his nightstand then. Like Spalding himself, it was part of the base. No one cared if he preferred physical media to electronic.
"Databanks get corrupted. Computers go down. Networks get compromised. None of that can happen to the printed page." Spalding held his book up again. "With a book, all you need is a little light and your own mind. And there's just no experience like sitting down with one in your hands and reading one. You should try it, Patterson," he went on, the fire of joy igniting in his eyes. "There's a physical library here, too. Pick out a book, settle down someplace comfortable with it, and see if your outlook doesn't change."
For a moment I worried that Patterson might mock Spalding some more following this speech, or call him a nut. However, Patterson was looking admiringly at Spalding and grinning.
"I think it already has," he said quietly.