The ancient book of wisdom at the heart of every computer MEMBER PREVIEW

Writing for The Guardian about science fiction was a mixed blessing. One of my small number of “haters” likes to claim I must have had “connections”. The truth is I argued my way into The Guardian, starting from the comment section, until the editors invited me to contribute “above the line”, all driven by my obsessive interest in science fiction.

If I seem obsessively interested in science fiction now…well…it’s barely a shadow of the intensity it was 20 years ago.

But writing for top tier publications comes at a major cost. The New York Times, or Wired, or The Guardian see the world in a particular way, and will ultimately make certain any writer they publish sees things the same way.

I was in an endless fight with editors at The Guardian to publish stories on science fiction that weren’t trapped inside it’s very, very pedestrian ideas about SF, even though it was the stories outside that box which were always most popular. Eventually I quit that fight, although I probably stuck at it a few years longer than I should have.

One story I did manage to push through was titled “The ancient book of wisdom at the heart of every computer”. This piece went viral online, and is one of my most referenced essays, even though the version I got past the editors was much shorter than it needed to be.

The next video essay for Science Fiction – season 2 is a reworked version of that piece, presenting the full argument. Members can read the script preview on the website, patreon or substack.

If you aren’t a member yet and enjoy Science Fiction, a monthly donation is a great way to help me not have to argue with editors at The Grauniad.

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Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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