Robin Sloan Quotes

  1. A gift shouldn’t feel like homework.
  2. Books and technology are braided together and always have been.
  3. Good writing is really meaningful, and it’s one of the – it’s still one of the best tools we have to get and capture people’s attention.
  4. Baking and coding involve using the same parts of your brain and a lot of the same skills, like being able to follow directions or create directions in a very systematic way.
  5. When you do something a little bit extreme or weird, it helps make it more interesting and more amenable to being written about.
  6. Print books have an amazing superpower because they don’t disappear when you’re done with them. Books on the shelf remind you that they exist.
  7. Doing research for ‘Penumbra,’ I read quite a bit about the early history of printing, and the more I did, the more it sounded like… the Internet today. There was crazy competition and upheaval; there were constant arguments about new techniques, new materials, new machines; and, of course, there were fortunes to be made.
  8. Social systems have values – arguments baked into their design. For example, Twitter’s core argument seems to be, ‘Everything should be public, and messages should find the largest audience possible.’ Snapchat’s might be, ‘Communication should be private and ephemeral.’
  9. It turns out you can train a neural network on a big body of text. It can be Wikipedia; it can be all the works of Charles Dickens; it could be all of the Internet. They can use grammar and put words together in interesting and convincing ways – and, I think, unexpected and beautiful ways.
  10. We’re looking at dozens, sometimes hundreds of things every day in articles, videos, and we never look at them again. Even if we do like them, even if we tweet them out to all of our followers on Twitter, we don’t return to it.
  11. My parents live in northern Michigan, and every year, in the summer, we visit them for a few weeks.
  12. On the Twitter media team, we believe that tweets drive TV tune-in.
  13. ‘Gone Home’ is a game about exploration, and everything you’ll experience is tied intimately to the space of the spooky house around you. Your task is simple: Poke around.
  14. It’s not like ‘Print versus Digital – only one will survive.’ We live in a hybrid world now, and I think the near-term future is also hybrid.
  15. The stimulation I get from my phone does not feel like the opposite of boredom to me. It actually feels like a different flavor of boredom… a twitchier flavor. And sometimes, it’s almost more irritation than stimulation. It’s an itch.
  16. Whether it’s ‘Fish’ or ‘Annabel Scheme’ or ‘The Truth About the East Wind,’ I often find myself crafting custom containers to hold the kind of content I want to create.
  17. The vision of the Internet as a vast digital wasteland isn’t correct. Everything is awesome, and we have more stuff to read than we ever have in history.
  18. When I’m using the Internet, I have 25 tabs open, and even if somebody sends me… something interesting, odds are I’ll forget about it, or it’ll get kind of lost in the shuffle.
  19. You can go as far back as fifth grade, and you will find me tinkering with media and computers, making things that are a little off the beaten track.
  20. For a whole year in elementary school, when the class marched down to the school library every week, I would refuse to return my book. I would just check it out again and again. Every week. For a whole year. The object of my fourth-grade filibuster was ‘D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.’
  21. Books are anchored. You return to books. You don’t return to a tweet.
  22. When I was 14, I spent a huge amount of time on the Internet, but not the Internet we know today. It was 1994, so while the World Wide Web existed, it wasn’t generally accessible. Prodigy and CompuServe were popular, and AOL was on the rise, but I didn’t have access to the web, and no one I knew had access to the web.
  23. I was always a computer kid, and I grew up with the Internet and always found it fascinating.
  24. When you’re writing for the Internet, you have the analytics, and you know that people are bailing every second. But various people kept reminding me that once people have bought a book, they’re in. You don’t have to be selling them on every page.
  25. ‘Minecraft’ is a game about creation, yes. But it is just as much a game about secret knowledge.
  26. I am comfortable combining the old and the new.
  27. Prediction just means you saw where the world might be going: ho-hum. Influence, though – ah. Influence, direct and acknowledged, means you actually steered the world, even if only a tiny bit.
  28. You can really find yourself at sea when you’re becoming an adult and suddenly have to feed yourself for the first time.
  29. If I am honest with myself, a not-insignificant fraction of my enjoyment of any episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ is delivered in its opening moments. I sit down, settle in, and… BUM-bum, bah-dah-BUM-bum.
  30. When we talk about novels, we don’t often talk about imagination. Why not? Does it seem too first grade? In reviews, you read about limpid prose, about the faithful reproduction of consciousness, about moral heft, but rarely about the power of pure, unadulterated imagination.
  31. I saw the short stories people were doing on Kindle and really liked the idea of seeing something I’d written on that screen.
  32. Selling books is hard to engineer.
  33. I liked the sort of YA classics. I loved ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ I loved ‘The Chronicles of Prydain’ by Lloyd Alexander, who is amazing. Basically, ‘Chronicles of’ – I was in.
  34. When you’ve biked only on quiet cul-de-sacs and college campuses, the idea of riding in the city, right up there alongside the cars, seems, frankly, pretty absurd.
  35. I think I’m one of those people that kind of thinks everybody’s got an identity, and maybe that’s the core of their personality. But I think we change enough over the years that it’s like a succession of different people.
  36. You can’t think of technology as separate from all of our human drama anymore.
  37. I think that some of the archetypes and works of science fiction that have pierced pop culture and stayed there are the darker ones and the dystopias.
  38. I want to learn to weld.
  39. There’s certainly satire written about techies, but it’s so snarky and snide and doesn’t treat him as a whole person. The people I worked with at Twitter – they’re very analytical, but they’re also deep and thoughtful – I feel like they deserved a charismatic spokesperson.
  40. I think one of the most exciting things about the whole digital side of publishing is that it eventually allows you to operate at any length. That also means shorter stuff, too.
  41. I think, personally – I don’t know if other readers would agree – but reading ‘Penumbra,’ I detect an Internet writer or a writer who came up on the Internet.
  42. Without science fiction, without the influence these books have had on me over the years, I’m not sure I would care much about reading or writing today.
  43. Everyone’s lives are sort of a succession, almost like handing the baton of your life off from one person to the next to the next to the next. And hopefully, that goes on for a long time, and the changes are healthy and interesting and not, like, spiraling into darkness.
  44. When MUDs appeared, that was an entirely novel experience, and often an addictive one. Long before Twitter or Snapchat, MUDs inspired the moral panic of the moment: a 1993 ‘Wired’ article titled ‘The Dragon Ate My Homework’ described university students losing themselves in these virtual worlds. Keep in mind: they were just words on a screen.
  45. What is a game like ‘No Man’s Sky,’ really? A set of symbols that specify a world but do not themselves constitute it. A rich grammar that’s inert without the trigger of human attention.
  46. We range widely, we readers of fiction, but I think we all need a home. Mine is science fiction. It’s my home shelf, my homeland, my home planet, my essential genre.
  47. If a shop has a neon Superman logo in the window, I will enter. If it has a neon Superman logo in the window, a Bat-symbol next to it, and a dragon under the eaves, I am already inside.
  48. ‘Parable of the Sower’ is capital-I Important. Put it on the literary fiction shelf. Put it on the Holy Crap fiction shelf. Put it on every shelf. This is one of the all-time great American novels.
  49. I got a bike – a fixed-gear with bright blue wheels, custom-made to my specifications. I am a San Francisco techno-hipster, so this selection was a bit of a self-caricature. But sometimes the predictable thing turns out to be the best thing, too, and you can’t let that stop you.
  50. When you close a tab or when you finish an article on the web, it’s gone unless you go back into your history or search for it or explicitly try to find it. Apps on your phone have this special property: they hang around. In some ways, they’re more like a book on a bookshelf than they are like web pages.
  51. In some ways I grew up in the public library in Troy, Michigan.
  52. This is what I think is fun about fiction – you get to use as much history as you want as scaffolding and then go beyond it and change it and mutate it.
  53. People tend to think of the quest as a sort of fanciful or fantastical form, but actually, I think it’s pretty realistic. I think that story of gathering allies to your side – recruiting your band of companions – actually matches the shape of most great careers, most great lives.
  54. For so long, the model for writing has been, you sit in a room alone for a number of days or weeks or months or years and figure it out. But now, you don’t have to do that; you don’t have to be alone in the room anymore.
  55. I love the web, but man, I look at my browser, and there are, like, twenty tabs up there, all jostling for space and time, all framed by a mosaic of other apps, other work, other entertainment… so even when I really am paying attention to something on the web, there’s this peripheral haze.
  56. If I look into my past, I was definitely into inventors. I was into stories of Edison and Tesla and da Vinci and all these guys making stuff in their garage.
  57. If you come from the Internet, as I do – I think of it as sort of my native country – there’s a lot of great things happening on the Internet, but one of the things, one of the feelings you just can’t escape is the sense that it’s really hard to keep people’s attention.
  58. Primes seem to me to be these unarbitrary, unique, fated things. It cannot be coincidence that the mythical numbers of storytelling like 3, 7, and 13 are random. The lower-end primes have incredible resonance in fiction and art.
  59. There’s just no escaping it: The half-life of media on the Internet is super short. Tweets flow and fade; pages that look great today will be gone or, at best, riddled with broken links and outmoded code in five years, tops.
  60. For me, writing in public is actually super energizing and so much fun. Especially when writing can typically be really painful and certainly hard, and often, you’re staring at the page and thinking, like, ‘Uh, is this any good? What am I doing?’
  61. When you’re making a print book in 2012, I actually think the onus is on you – and on your publisher – to make something that’s worth buying in its physical edition.
  62. In the case of ‘Fish,’ I did the writing, design, and code all at the same time, so the form and the content were fused together. I’d change some words, get an idea, change some code, see if it worked, change more words, and so on.
  63. I’ve never believed that Things Should Continue As They Are.
  64. A lot of folks focus on using Twitter as a marketing tool. They’ll have a bump that says something like ‘Tweet about the NewTeeVee show! Use the hashtag #newteevee.’ And that’s great – folks should definitely do that. What gets us really excited, though, is when they go an extra step and start to transform tweets into TV content.

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