Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!
This month, I'm featuring Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine!
Ash and Quill is book three (of five) of the Great Library series. I've actually done a Science in Fiction post for Ink and Bone, in which I talked about the cost of printed books vs. ebooks. In Ash and Quill, the focus of books shifts slightly towards the printing press, as Jess and Thomas build a prototype of a printing press in order to save their lives and the lives of their friends. Today, I want to talk about the printing press!
The printing press is a revolutionary advancement in technology. It was invented in the 1400s by Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg used and adapted existing technologies, and created the movable type, in order to come up with a printing press. His printing press spread all over Europe within decades, and by 1500, over twenty million books had been printed by the printing press. Nearly 200 million copies would be printed in the 1500s.
The printing press was significant because it boosted the spread of knowledge, ideas, and communication. Mechanical movable type was pure genius, as it made the rate of printing much faster. Gutenberg's press had a hand mould that allowed for greater precision in mass quantities.
Something that the Great Library series emphasizes is the centralization of ideas, and how this is dangerous. In essence, the Great Library holds all of the knowledge, and the common person is not allowed to have books of their own. Information was not available to everyone. The same can be said about times before the printing press was invented and produced. The printing press led to the dissemination of information, at a greater production and large availability. No longer did people have to rely on officials and church leaders for knowledge on this or that. The government - or the church - did not hold all information and knowledge anymore.
Upon the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, the Gutenberg printing press remained somewhat unchained in mechanics. However, printing presses became revolutionized by steam power, and the use of rotating cylinders. Another German, Friedrich Koenig implemented these ideas, and the process of creating newspapers began. Double-sided printing, too!
As book lovers, we should all be big fans of the printing press and how technology has changed to all printing to become more efficient. It is truly amazing how people like Gutenberg came up with these ideas, and implemented them.
Want to see what old printing presses looked like?
This is a recreated Gutenberg press at the International Printing Museum, Carson, California. Source: Wikipedia.
Model of the Common Press (1650-1850). Source: Wikipedia.
Hoe's one cylinder printing press (1864). Source: Wikipedia.
Sextuple stereotype perfecting press and folders with color printing attachment (1899-1900). Source: Wikipedia.
Goss quadruple straightline printing press (1905). Source: Wikipedia.
So, printing presses. Spreading knowledge, one type at a time. These days, knowledge is power but it is also dangerous. I'm glad for printing and its effects on literacy and communication, and the democratization of knowledge. Imagine if the President of the United States held all the power is what we (as Americans) read. Hopefully printing - and the internet - will keep those times far away.
Did you learn anything new? What are your thoughts on the printing press? How important is the democratization of knowledge to you?