Hands On

MARK TWAIN: TECHNOLOGIST

HOW THE AUTHOR OF COULDN’T MAKE IT AS A VENTURE ANGEL.

By Bruce Sterling

AS A TEEN, HE EARNED HIS LIVING AS A printer in St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, and Cincinnati. He roamed the Mississippi as a steamboat pilot. He was a soldier for a couple of weeks, and a Nevada silver miner for a spell. He was a roughin’ it, hands-on, jack-of-all-trades.

Then his literary genius began to tell on him. Soon it was clear that he was much better at telling stories than he would ever be at making things.

Still, Samuel Clemens never shook off his romance with technology and invention. It’s in his books; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is a time-travel yarn about a can-do techie who destroys medieval England through ...

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