The Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder, PayPal co-founder, Internet tycoon shares a list of best science fiction books that inspire him. By the way, don’t miss his latest biography “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance
“Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down” by J.E. Gordon
As a former naval architect and professor at Reading University, Gordon is more than qualified to explain the purpose of underlying structures – from chariot wheels to Chinese boats. Concepts of design are key to upholding or destroying powerful weapons, such as naval boats (like the H.M.S. Captain) and spaceships. A discussion on load-bearing is just as important here as a chapter on compression. It’s not hard to understand why this was one of the best books of the required reading in military academies, from the United States to the former Soviet Union, and still in high demand today.
“Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson
“I like biographies. I think they are really helpful. I like Franklin’s biography by Isaaksson, it’s really good. He was an entrepreneur, he started of nothing, just like a runaway kid. It was interesting to see how he is creating his business, then go to science and politics. I could say he is one of the people I most admire. Franklin is pretty awesome. He did what needed to be done at the time it needed to be done.”
-Elon Musk in Kevin Rose’s Foundation
“Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness” by Donald L. Barlett
“May be a cautionary tale, he is sort of an interesting fella.”
-Elon Musk in Reading for leading
“Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age” by B. Carlson
“I also like biographies of scientists. Obviously, about Tesla, absolutely great person.”
-Elon Musk in Kevin Rose’s Foundation
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
-from entrepreneur.com and npr.org
One of the best books to read in the science fiction realm, it can’t be beat for pure craziness. There are morose androids, philosophical discussions in swamps with mattresses, and alien invasions of quiet country golf courses – by a couch gone mad. There’s the all-important answer to the question on the meaning of life, and travel tips on what to bring on intergalactic journeys. There are big keg parties in the sky. Frankly, there’s not a lot that isn’t covered. If you find something missing, it’s sure to be in another Adams novel, though this is one of his best.
“Lord of the Rings” series by J. R. R. Tolkien
Musk names this book among his favorite ones during his teen-years in South Africa.
Reading such a set will take time and concentration, though it doesn’t take a die-hard fan to follow the story line. The epic war between citizens of Middle Earth is carried out by the humble and the great, from Lord Elrond (the Elf) of Rivendell, to Gandalf the wizard, Gimley the dwarf, Aragorn the returning king, and Frodo the hobbit of the Shire. The side of evil has Sauron the bodiless Eye, the wizard Saruman, Denethor of Gondor (who plays both sides), and his sons – besides legions of wicked goblins and orcs. While Sauron unleashes the forces of evil to restore his biggest weapon (the Ring), Frodo’s quest is to destroy it – without getting destroyed in the process.
“The Foundation Series” by Isaac Asimov
Besides Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, perhaps no other series has found its way into the hearts of the reading public and critics alike. Winner of the prestigious Hugo Award, this series covers philosophy, man’s origins, the laws of science, and whether or not man really can conquer space travel. As in Star Wars, politics and robots often determine the fate of …well, the Galaxy. Unlike in either Star Wars or Blade Runner, the hero (Hari Seldon) is a mathematician who has caught the attention of the Emperor. Seldon’s powerful tool will eventually prevent humans from devolving into savage beasts, thus securing a win for the future and civilization.
“The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein
Musk recommends this book as one of his favorite sci-fi books during his interview with Design&Architecture show host Frances Anderton. “…Robert Heinlein, obviously. I like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress”, Musk says.
Another Hugo award-winner besides Isaac Asimov, Heinlein writes about a prison rebellion – on the Moon. The Lunar colony is in a state of uprising against their Earth-bound overlords, led by a trio of unlikely dissidents: a technician, a female rabble-rouser, and a Professor. The inhuman cog in the rebellion is the intelligent super-computer, named Mike. Free trade, and Mike’s future projection of starvation, provide the necessary fuel to wage war against a most powerful (and desperate) enemy. Reading this science fiction book can either inspire you to see revolution from a political light, make you consider the nature of intelligence, or help you root for the underdog.
“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein
Musk recommends this book as one of his favorite sci-fi books during his interview with Design&Architecture show host Frances Anderton. “I like Stranger in a Strange Land, although it kind of goes off the rails at the end”, Musk says.
Considered one of Heinlein’s absolute best books, it has eerie similarities to Ray Bradbury’s gloomy classic, The Martian Chronicles. Space explorers set out to discover Mars, and are lost for a generation. A second team is sent, discovers two of the original explorers’ children living free, and the children are brought to Earth for questioning and legal wrangles about economics and planet ownership. After hospital imprisonment by a calculating government official, Mike the Martian is helped by an intrepid reporter and his girlfriend to start a new and freeing Church of All Worlds. However, there’s still the problem of whether or not humans will accept this new church’s teachings on freedom, and cast off all restraints – or not.
“Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants” by John D Clark
Star Wars: The Complete Saga