Tim O’Reilly

Science Fiction

Many people don't know that one of my first books was a study of the work of science-fiction writer Frank Herbert (now out of print but available in digital form on this site), or that I edited a collection of his essays (also out of print). I still read a lot of science-fiction, and in the distant past wrote quite a bit about it.

Below are more of my essays and interviews relating to science fiction.

A Question of Preference — March 2002. An Ask Tim column responding to a reader's question about whether I preferred Paul (in Dune and Dune Messiah) or Leto (in Children of Dune) as a leader. Leads to some meditations on both leadership and the function of literature.

Frank Herbert. In 1981 I published my first book, a biography about the science fiction writer Frank Herbert. It's out of print now, but I decided to make it available online.

A Review of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. This is actually an email I wrote to friends and family in February 2000. When putting together this archive, I thought it was worth sharing more widely.

I found a lot of food for thought regarding the idealism of the open source software community—the belief of some characters that a new order beyond capitalist competition was possible, that the cooperative scientific and engineering endeavor of Mars as a giant laboratory and development for the good of mankind didn't have to fall back into the old ways of exploitation and unequal distribution of benefits. In many ways, the book is about a culture built on the best of the underlying dreams of science, where people are driven by the search for truth and possibility, not personal gain.

Tim O'Reilly on Science Fiction. An email interview I did for Borders.com in mid-1998. They asked me to write about science fiction books I like. I threw in some other types of books for good measure. Alas, too many of them are no longer available.

I particularly like the depiction in this book [F.M. Busby's Rissa Kerguelen] of small entrepreneurial companies as subversive forces in a future world dominated by enormous corporations. I read this book just at the point when I was making the leap from being an author to being a businessman, and I can honestly say that if I hadn't read it, O'Reilly & Associates might not now exist.