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Science Fiction Books That Inspired Elon Musk

At the relaunch event for KCRW’s Design & Architecture (DnA) show this week, Tesla Motors and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk answered questions about his work.

During his interview with DnA host Frances Anderton, the SpaceX founder said that science fiction had inspired his wide-ranging career. Naturally, this GalleyCat editor asked what books inspired the entrepreneur. Musk gave a long answer:

In terms of sci-fi books, I think Isaac Asimov is really great. I like the Foundation series, probably one of the all-time best. Robert Heinlein, obviously. I like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and I like Stranger in a Strange Land, although it kind of goes off the rails at the end.

He also shared recommendations for aspiring engineers:

There’s a good book on structural design called Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down. It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design. There is a good book on rocket stuff called Ignition! [An informal history of liquid rocket propellants] by John Clark, that’s a really fun one.

Musk concluded with more science fiction favorites:

Obviously, I am a huge fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, all the things you would expect. I like Dark City, that’s a good one but doesn’t get much play. I’ve read a zillion, and, of course, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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