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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Tim O'Reilly on Science Fiction

by Ken Newquist / October 5, 2008

In this old article (as in 1998) Tim O'Reilly provides a rundown of his favorite science fiction novels, including Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, Snowcrash, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and The Stars are Ours.

He prefaces this list by discussing the book The Meaning of Culture by John Cowper Powys and draws the conclusion "a truly cultured person appreciates what has really shaped his world view, and uses literature and the arts as a tool to get more out of life." He then provides the list as examples of science fiction literature that shaped his world view.

What's missing from this article is the critical other half that explains how these books informed his world view. It's all well and good to say that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but how did a novel about libertarian lunar revolution inform his world view? Was it an appreciation for the merits of a free market economy? The insidious effectiveness of revolutionary cells working in isolation from one another? Group marriages? We don't know because he doesn't say.

That flaw aside, I think his opening point is a good one, and this is definitely a list well-worth reading (and emulating ... but I'll save that for another post) from one of the leaders in the technology and publishing fields.