It was July in the year 2289 and in Gallia, the northern part of what used to be France a century earlier, they were celebrating the 500th anniversary of the French Revolution. It was also almost a hundred years since World War 4, the so-called “great technological war”, which had decimated the world’s scientifi c, technical and engineering community as well as destroying all the digital information stored in the 55 huge data centres scattered across the earth. These data centres, mostly underground, housed the “cloud”, in which mankind had entrusted all its data and creative work, and were conveniently concentrated for the ensuing attacks. In a short space of time the totality of electronic records, including all books written after 2100, when paper printing was abolished, was obliterated and lost forever. All that was left of the written word were the millions of books stored in dusty warehouses, called “libraries”, as well as some ancient storage media that had long fallen out of use-these were mostly disk drives with very limited storage, less than a petabyte, which had passed from one generation to another as heirlooms, usually quite deteriorated and no longer readable. Many philosophers had forecasted this disaster after the technological singularity was reached in the mid 22nd century, but nobody paid much attention to these “prophets of doom”, as they called them.