What Elon Musk’s love for science fiction reveals about Tesla and SpaceX


Elon Musk, inspired by science fiction, has shaped its businesses around a very particular vision of the future.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX regularly touts his love of the genre, naming products and vehicles after those found in science fiction and even stating that he wants to shoot science fiction in reality. His inspiration, however, might not be in keeping with some of Musk’s actions.

Jill Lepore, professor of history at Harvard University, claims in a new podcast that Musk even represents a new kind of capitalism – “muskism”.

Elon Musk: The Evening Rocket, released by the BBC in September, debuts in the United States through audio production company Pushkin. In an exclusive clip shared with Reverse, Lepore notes that the basic facts of Musk’s life already make him look like a comic book character.

In fact, Lepore says that a new ideology of capitalism called “muskism” began to emerge around him – “extravagant, extreme capitalism, alien capitalism”. Stock prices are determined by the “gains” and “fantasies” of science fiction, “some centenarians.”

Elon Musk: How his love of science fiction emerges in his work

On a larger scale, Musk’s influences are clear. Its stated goal is to establish an autonomous city of one million people on Mars by 2050. This is part of a plan to turn humanity into a multiplanetary species.

But dig a little deeper, and SpaceX’s sci-fi roots go even deeper. The company’s three drones are named after ships found at Iain M. Banks Culture series. Musk’s Tesla Roadster, launched into space in February 2018, carried Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series on a “5D quartz” storage medium.

The first ship that will transport humans to Mars, Gold heart, is even named after a ship found in Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

These references also emerge sometimes with Tesla. High performance Ludicrous and Plaid modes are names inspired by 1980s sci-fi comedy Space balls.

But write in the New York Times, Lepore wrote last week that Musk’s motivations seem curious when placed alongside these books. Hitchhikers Guide begins with a critique of the mega-rich, and Iain M. Banks was a socialist.

“They [Musk and other entrepreneurs] read books for gadgets, ”said Lepore WNYC. “It’s like reading Playboy for articles.”

The Reverse analysis – There seems to be a disconnect between muscle building and its inspiration. Musk seems to see his vast wealth as a means to an end – even though the ending depicted in the books wasn’t meant to be an endorsement of Musk Building.

During his 2016 appearance at the International Astronautical Congress, he said he was accumulating wealth to bring humans to Mars. In March, he wrote on Twitter: “I am accumulating resources to help make life multiplanetary and extend the light of consciousness to the stars.”

While bodybuilding may lead the race to Mars, there could be disagreements over how his society should be structured.

David Anderman, general counsel for SpaceX from July 2019 to December 2020, said in a Reverse interview that the governance of Mars could guarantee basic resources as part of its constitution. This could help radically reshape ideas about government intervention.

Muscle building could bring people to Mars, but as a “free planet” will Martians choose to stay the course?


About Ethel Nester

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