Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.
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'Who are we?' And to me that's the essential question that's always been in science fiction. A lot of science fiction stories are - at their very best - evocations of that question. When we look up at the night sky and wonder, 'Is there anyone else out there?' we're also asking who we are we in relation to them.
If you were a kid in 1955, you would pick up a copy of 'Popular Science' and it would say, 'This is the kind of car you're going to be driving in five years or in 20 years you'll be able to take a jet plane from New York to London in four hours,' or something like that. We actually got used to the idea that the future's going to be different.
In the 20th century, we had a century where at the beginning of the century, most of the world was agricultural and industry was very primitive. At the end of that century, we had men in orbit, we had been to the moon, we had people with cell phones and colour televisions and the Internet and amazing medical technology of all kinds.
My approach to 'Star Trek' was, 'I know science fiction, and I know screen writing.' That was very arrogant of me, but you really need to be a little bit arrogant to think that what you have to say is good enough to justify the expense of hundreds of thousands - now millions of dollars - to make an episode of the TV show.
What I wish is that people would look beyond the tribbles and see I've written some other books that I really would like people to notice. There's 'The Man Who Folded Himself,' there's 'The Martian Child,' which is about my son and the adoption. There's 'The War Against The Chtorr,' which is my magnum opus, my great epic story.
What's interesting about the shift from an industrial age to a technological age is that we keep inventing new media: movies, records, radio, television, the Internet, and now ebooks - and one of the things that's most interesting about the invention of a new medium is watching it reinvent itself as it penetrates the culture.
When the Internet came along, at first it was just a medium for moving text around - books first, then pictures, finally video. Each time the bandwidth expanded, so did the capabilities of the medium, and each time it happened, the Internet cannibalized preexisting formats. And each time, those formats had to adapt. Or die.