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Science Fiction Engineer
The engineer that inspired some of the greatest engineers of the last century
What do Bill Nye the Science Guy, the founders of Microsoft and Apple, and Isaac Asimov all have in common?
They are all Swifties. Not the kind fighting Ticketmaster to see Taylor but fans of Tom Swift.
As children, they all read the same books about a genius inventor1, whose creations save the world from evil.
I remember reading those same books with my dad.
Tom Swift builds a floating highway to unite a country in Africa. To explore the depths of the ocean, he creates an underwater super laboratory. When a planetoid threatens to wipe out North America, he combines various inventions to save the day.
As a kid, I wanted to be like that when I grew up, an inventor who could save our world from evil. Late nights playing with another Lego invention to save the dinosaurs from extinction. I remember sitting in math class daydreaming about the day I’d be able to use that knowledge to build something real.
I wanted Tom Swift’s story for myself.
I went to college to become an engineer and then to Recurse Center to become a better one. Like Tom Swift, I’m drawn to working on mission-driven technology and have focused my career on helping startups build apps that make a difference in people’s lives.
The stories that capture our imaginations make us who we are.
A post by Julia Evans
When I’m writing, there’s a nagging voice of doubt nitpicking at everything I’m doing. A part of my subconscious that’s picked up on various myths about writing, learned through years of schooling and reading things on the internet.
These myths stem from what we think our writing should be. They’re only valuable if our belief in them helps us achieve our writing goals.
Here are some of the blogging myths that Julia calls out and why I also think they aren’t true:
“You need to be original” - valuable information can be presented in more digestible ways by someone you resonate with
“Page views matter” - this depends on what your writing goals are; if you’re just trying to build an audience, this may be all you care about. Sometimes connecting with the right people matters more than how many.
“More material is always better” - short posts are more compassionate for your reader and easier to digest
“Everyone should blog” - don’t blog because you think you should, blog because you want to!
She concludes that writing is “fun for me and helps me organize my thoughts”. I feel similarly. I want to become a better writer. I like the way that writing helps me think. From that lens, these myths aren’t very helpful, and ignoring them will help me achieve my goals.
Writing is the crystallization of amorphous thought. Or as, Leslie Lamport says, “Writing is nature's way of telling us how lousy our thinking is.”
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Later stories revolve around Tom Swift’s son, Tom Swift Jr. They have the same premise and themes.