Whilst unpacking his library Johnny Solo made a brief calculation. He read, on average, a book a week. He was therefore likely to read 3900 books if he were to live to the age of 75. Discounting the five years before he could read he would read 3640. The total number of books he had read to date at his present age totalled 1820.

Johnny Solo had a belief, it was curled up inside him, sometimes sleeping, sometimes active and a great part of this belief was informed by the things he had read. This is where the trouble began: Johnny reasoned that as there were more than 20,000 books published in English on any given year there must be a book out there which would serve to disabuse him of his belief. His rate of reading began to excelerate as he searched for the one book that would confirm the doubt which had started to corrode his life. He felt exposed to the doubt like a soldier on open ground awaiting the bullet of a sniper. The pages sometimes seemed to be made of marble as they turned, ever closer toward the conformation of his doubt. Not that the doubt had any substance because, after all, he had his belief; but there was always the possibility that the book he happened to be reading would explode in his face. The truth bomb could be contained in the most innocuous of packages, a cookery book, an Enid Blyton, a Len Deighton Novel, an anthology of Science fiction tales. As he did not know the nature of his enemy he felt defenceless. The only way out was to confront his enemy in the best way he could and read towards it.

The main reason he had that his belief was irrefutable was that he had not encountered a book that satisfactorily discounted it. Which, of course, was no good reason at all. He followed the same argument as those skeptical of the existence of extraterrestrial life. If they do exist we should have heard from them by now and if we haven't it is because interstellar travel is impossible or that it's possible that aliens have not contacted us because of a policy of 'non-intervention' but it could equally be the case that extraterrestrial civilisations are rare or absent.

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