EDIT: fixed the name of the book, thank you bradyd.
Case in point: Danny discovers the pros and cons of invisibility, by learning how to pilot the professor's telepresence suit that drives a small insect-sized drone. This was in 1974.
Looking back, the concept that a person could love what they do so much, that they would want a "cot in the lab," probably drove me to the startup space long before that was a thing!
1. Elon Musk and his Reusable Space Rocket
2. Elon Musk and his Electric Car
3. Elon Musk and his Tunnel Boring Machine
4. Elon Musk and his Flamethrower
5. Elon Musk and his Self Driving Car
We've had these for ages and Elon has not made any advances in tunneling technology despite hundreds of millions of dollars and however-many years invested.
> 4. Elon Musk and his Flamethrower
Elon Musk and his $500 roofing torch.
> Elon Musk and his Self Driving Car
Elon Musk and his moving goalposts...
Of course, there is also "Elon Musk and his Cult of Personality", which is how he can slap a brand-name on a roofing torch and get people to run around calling it a "flamethrower", and how he can get away with calling a system that still requires human supervision "feature-complete full self driving".
This also contributes to his being able to get away with publicly calling an international hero a pedophile, just because they had the gall to question "Elon Musk and his Cave Rescue Submarine".
I give Elon a lot of respect for what he has done with 1 and 2, but I think his visions would be better served by less hero-worship and more serious people holding him to account.
Musk was an asshole too, but he didn't start it.
The diver doing that is like winning the world cup and then during your post-game interview you use that time to talk about how bad your teammates that sat on the bench are. Maybe he's technically correct about Musk's submarine not working, but he's still classless and an asshole. Its hard to imagine that Musk would be upset if there was some good PR for Tesla as a result of this but its also not hard to imagine that a part of him legitimately wanted to do something that he thought would help.
Pedophile in that context was not intended as a serious allegation that the diver sexually assaulted kids. It was a generic insult that just plays off of the stereotype that western expats that live in Thailand are going there primarily for underage prostitutes.
Its also ridiculous because the divers were immediately praised and applauded by the entire world. Why would they even give a shit if other people showed up to help and they (the divers) were the ones that got to run the operation? It was a pretty positive event where some people saved some children from certain death and in the aftermath 2 grown men decided to turn a positive thing into a petty argument.
OTOH how would you go about assessing his engineering ability? He was accepted into a Stanford PhD program. An ex-employee of spacex was amazed how he absorbed a textbook of rocket science.
Unlike Eistein, he hasn't written any papers himself (AFAIK), so we can't assess his work directly.
I would guess his primary role is being a technically and business-aware coach for engineers who actually do the work - like Steve Jobs. But maybe he is a genuine engineering genius himself - but how could we tell?
The innovation is in bringing these products to market and keeping multiple companies viable while doing so. NO ONE else has done the things he has. Put up or shut up. Edit: I'm not a fanboy and there are a lot of things about him I dislike, but the casual dismissals just irk me. If he's so unoriginal, you go do what he did.
That's nonsense. Most people weren't lucky enough to sell a company for several hundreds of millions of dollars in the dot-com boom.
Musk got his start with Zip2, programming it himself. Any competent programmer could have done that (but didn't). Each success he used to launch a much more ambitious enterprise.
When someone does that multiple times, it isn't luck. It's being good at it.
It’s easier to say “Go do what JK Rowling did” than to say “Go do what Elon did” lmao. I can write a fantasy series with $0. The same can’t be said necessarily for building companies.
There’s more involved to starting a company than money. Such as your network. Your support system. Even your race and geographic location could play a factor. Luck, etc.
“You go be a 7-ft basketball player if you think it’s so easy!!!”
The freeways around here are gridlocked with cars costing more than $28,000.
> Such as your network. Your support system. Even your race and geographic location could play a factor. Luck, etc.
Oh phooey. I started my company with nothing more than an IBM PC. Nobody knew my race or location - it was mail order. Want to network? Use the internet. The D development community is all over the world.
On HN I regularly see extreme negativity and often outright hostility to all the opportunities all around us. What I enjoy about Musk is he likes to do things everyone else says can't be done.
Yea, financed with debt over what is now typically 7-10 years. 28k of capital to invest is out of the reach of the majority of Americans. Please don't pretend that's a small amount of money anyone can come up with.
Somehow "most" morphed into "anyone".
BTW, if you can finance $28,000 over 7-10 years, you can buy a perfectly fine $3,000 car, save up what your payment would have been, and have those funds to invest.
My daily driver, for example, is 31 years old now, and is worth maybe $500. I invest the money I save (taxes, insurance, and repairs are pretty cheap for the thing, too).
My not-so-humble opinion is that if you have to finance a car, you should buy a cheaper used one you can pay cash for. Financing an expensive car is a great way to never have any spare funds available.
It's a shame he let everyone's negativity and tall poppy syndrome talk him into killing the app, instead of riding out the wave all the way. He made something that made a lot of people happy all over the world.
Are there ANY other players at his level of household-name and wealth that are pushing as hard as he is, in as many directions? Gates has done fantastic work for decades but only using conventional methods, and basically everyone else is only doing R&D for their own purposes.
He's not some Tony-Stark/Tom-Swift type, but neither is he just another capitalist dick.
First Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan and Mars series. Then all Jules Verne books available. Verne is technically very detailed. They were great reading experiences. I can still remember where the books were placed in the library.
Only one of my ~6 nephews/nieces show interest in libraries, but honestly? That's a pretty good hit-rate. They're not for everyone, and never were.
Though I've never fully recovered from the reality check than a real engineer isn't as broadly competent and knowledgeable as Cyrus Smith. (even American ones ;) )
The two works were linked in my mind back when I was watching Lost, and my impressions of them were very similar -- in both The Mysterious Island and Lost, there were fascinating mysteries built up in the beginning, but the eventually revealed explanations could not live up to those expectations.
There was no way they could live up to the expectations - part of the problem was that they kept trying to tease the fans with the future and the fans kept guessing right so they kept trying to change things to stay ahead and as a result - painted themselves in a corner.
They did some amazingly interesting things though - creating events, products, and fake companies in the real world to enhance the story telling in the fictional one. Ground breaking.
A big part of my thesis was how a shared interest in the show was creating real world friendships from online fanboards - something that sounds 'so what?' now, but that was mind blowing back then. People would meet on the boards and then travel to Hawaii, meet up, go to the set locations, even stay together - based on a passion for the 'mysteries' the show created.
If the young reader could get a good chemistry teacher as a tutor, though; the possibilities turn from grim to great.
It won the Grand Prix at the International Film Festival that was held as part of Expo 58 in Brussels.
Czechs and Slovaks can't get enough Verne. Check out all the translations of The Mysterious Island between 1878 and 2018. Some of the translators did it several times again, one of them six times.
If you'd like to produce some new ones for everyone to read, get in touch at our mailing list!
I really would like to live in a Vernian world where people are mostly good and rationalism wins the day. But I also would like to live in Discworld (maybe except Fourecks) so caveat emptor! :'D
Seveneves explores social media and swarm robots (and non-fantastical alternatives-to-chemical-rocket-propulsion), for instance (and later, epigenetics).
Arrival explores a hypothesis from the science of linguistics, for instance (I like this one a lot because it strays from the usual "hard" sciences or anthropological rehashing of European conquest, etc, of space operas).
Space operas are really just fantasy in space. Fun, grand epics, but not science fiction (exception would be in The Last Jedi, the use of the hyperdrive as an extremely powerful weapon... exploring the consequences of any kind of propulsion system capable of traveling at extreme speeds... of course, everyone--except me--hated that one because, we all agree, Star Wars is fantasy, not science fiction).
Paris in the 20th century was also really cool to read. Almost every Jules Verne book has this unbridled optimism (especially pronounced in the American characters). But this book is dark. I kinda liked it for that. After reading so many Jules Verne books as a teenager, they all started to feel the same.
It's my understanding that the original French texts (not just the illustrations) are much richer in that socio-historical stuff. The English translations that we have are unfortunately dumbed-down to YA-friendly adventure stories.
I'd love to see translations that more faithfully capture the full complexity of the works.
In particular, Verne is able to deploy ethnic caricatures without coming across as bigoted:
> What can be added to these figures, so eloquent in themselves? Nothing. So the following calculation obtained by the statistician Pitcairn will be admitted without contestation: by dividing the number of victims fallen under the projectiles by that of the members of the Gun Club, he found that each one of them had killed, on his own account, an average of two thousand three hundred and seventy-five men and a fraction.
> By considering such a result it will be seen that the single preoccupation of this learned society was the destruction of humanity philanthropically, and the perfecting of firearms considered as instruments of civilisation. It was a company of Exterminating Angels, at bottom the best fellows in the world.
He dreamt big, wild (Michel Strogoff), and daringly (From the Earth to the Moon), ranging from adventure (Around the World in Eighty Days) to scientific anticipation (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), to sheer madness (Robur the Conqueror).
My favorite quote of his is quite revealing of the man's character: "Tout ce qui est dans la limite du possible doit être et sera accompli". Which I would roughly translate as "All that is within the limits of the possible must and will be accomplished".
It made me suspect that the versions of the more well-known novels like 20,000 Leagues, Earth to the Moon, Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth that I'd read from the shelves of my school library had been considerably bowdlerized.
There are some modern translations that might be better on this front.
Edit: Mentioned elsewhere in this thread: <https://19thlevel.blogspot.com/2012/08/jules-verne-translati..., which I have now bookmarked!
No, I don't think so. It seems sci fi went the way of the graduate thesis: hyper specialized, hyper focused. I think this might have been out of necessity. Maybe Stephenson has come close though.
He's covered nonfictional history, space travel (anathem, seven eves), colonization of Earth orbit and the moon (seven eves), generational space travel (anathem), multiple universe theories (anathem), and to come back down to earth, cryptography (cryptonomicon, reamde, fall), AI (diamond age), wetware hacking (snow crash), VR (snow crash, fall), post mortem VR (fall), nanotech (fall, diamond age), and layered simulated universes (fall).
So beyond Stephenson I don't think anyone comes close to fantastical exploration at the level of Verne. Crichton didn't. Watts is highly focused in biology. Banks deals with cosmic horror, AI, and a touch of multiverse. Doctorow is fantastic "realistic near future" exploration but he never takes us to space, and I don't think he really even explores AI.
Come on now, there's a lot more to Iain M Banks than that. Anarchist post-scarcity utopias, dirigible behemothaurs, The Shellworld Sursamen, and the mind-boggling purpose it was put to, the immenseness of Syang-un Nestworld, the idea that whole civilizations can sublime, Minds, pure energy creatures, The Girdlecity of Xown, in which a huge airship hosts a five year long two thousand person party to mark the end of a civilization. The Excession. The Affront! The subtle exploration of what people born into a galaxy spanning utopia might want to do with their time. And the fantastic and slighly disturbing idea that super intelligent Minds might give themselves silly names.
And his non-Culture novel Feersum Endjinn, although its quite old now, had some startling ideas about cyberspace - that it might move thousands of times faster than base reality, and (major spoilers - ROT13) rfpncrq znyjner zvtug ribyir va uvtu-fcrrq plorefcnpr vagb n pvivyvmngvba infgyl byqre naq zber pbzcyvpngrq guna bhe bja, naq pbzcyrgryl vapbzcerurafvoyr gb hf
I think he doesn't have the breadth of topic of Neal Stephenson but he's definitely prolific.
Not always very well, mind you: my youthful adoration of his breadth has been replaced by am embarrassed coughing as I realize just how far out of his depth he often was. Still, who I am today owes a lot to him.
Aliens and their freaky orbs
As far as I know, he's not really explored the possibilities of space exploration, AI, VR, transhumanism, etc. I mean he's great but I don't think he covers all that much ground.
It is such a contrast to his other novels I have to wonder how accurate this portrayal is, whether it was greatly exaggerated in some way. Can anyone comment on Verne's latter days?
As a slightly different plug, "20,000 Leagues under the Sea" from 1916  is worth a glance.
It's a silent film, so some people might not be able to watch it today, but is has some curiosities to it.
It was the first feature filmed underwater, using a simple tube and mirror arrangement that most people here could come up with. It also had tons of extravagant sets, and so on, making it incredibly expensive for the era.
Literature wise, it combines "20,000 Leagues under the Sea" and "The Mysterious Island", in a fairly faithful way.
Note: If it wasn't obvious from above, that's a link to something I run.
Does anyone know of good copies of English translations that preserve the original illustrations? The easiest to find ones on Amazon (from SeaWolf Press) don't look to be the best printing.
Do you have recommendations?
Yes, we can safely say science fiction writers after Jules Verne has outdone him. Safely.
I believe Jules Verne himself reading science fiction that came after himself would say so himself.
Believing that one moment in the past was better than all the future moments is a classic form of romantic nostalgia in the style of Midnight in Paris of Woody Allen.
I believe Jules Verne books were incredibile for the time and inspired millions of readers.
Believing that Jules Verne was the apex though is very sad.
It's absolutely the opposite of what Jules Verne was.
Jules Verne was a dreamer believing in progress.
When you believe that the Jules Verne was the apex of science fiction progress you are spitting in the face of his optimism.
I consumed the entire Verne that was in my primary school library, maybe 15 novels in total. "The Mysterious Island" and "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" were one of the first books I read in English translations (my mother tongue is Polish), around the age of 13. Good times.
Registration required, though.
PGLAF has taken an extreme position. In order to comply with a German court ruling about copyright infringement, it's made the entire site unavailable to German IP addresses.
That would be like Google entirely cutting off the EU over "Right to be Forgotten" stuff. Google would never do that, because money. But PGLAF isn't about money.
So anyway, I'm on PGLAF's side here, if anyone cares.
But the decision to block German IP addresses /is/ about money. They made the point that it would be more expensive for PG to arrange to block specific works and that they simply don't have a budget for it. See https://cand.pglaf.org/germany/index.html
I downloaded Five Weeks in a Balloon and noticed that it does not credit a translator but does claim copyright. Seems a bit odd.
"... if variations in binding color are considered, more than 4000 different combinations of text and binding were published between 1866 and 1919."
His French isn't too tough if you read that, but some of the English translations you see in the wild—oof.
As a kid I read Jules Verne translated in my native language, and loved it. Not sure where I would start to acquire his work in English.
One of the reasons that I like HN, is because of occasional gems like this.