My Car Quest

September 25, 2021

I Met David Brin Once On The Telephone

by Mike –

When I spoke to David Brin on the telephone I did not know he was destined to be an award winning science fiction writer who would win all (I think) of the awards one can win as a science fiction writer.

Many years later one of his books, “The Postman”, was made into a movie staring Kevin Costner. I love the book and the movie and so does my wife.

I have since read most of his science fiction books and have become a big fan of his writing but when we talked on the telephone that day long ago he was just another engineer that I was interviewing for a job.

1980

It was 1980 and I was one of the managers starting up a new NCR Microelectronics semiconductor manufacturing and design facility in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

We moved to Ft. Collins from San Diego in mid-1979 and in the early days I spent a lot of time on the phone recruiting engineers who had mailed in their resume (CV). This was long before the Internet and email so the resumes were real paper that had been mailed by the US Postal Service. Remember those days? Some of you may not.

The resume

I had a stack of resumes on my desk and David Brin’s resume made it to the top so I called him one afternoon. He was living in the San Diego area, as I think he still does. He was working for Hughes Research Labs as a semiconductor diffusion engineer and had a Ph.D. in astrophysics (or was close to completing this degree).

Astrophysics is not a normal field of study for a semiconductor engineer but he had real experience in semiconductor processing which was my main interest. He also had a masters degree in electrical engineering which was good.

The phone call and the invitation

On the phone he sounded like a regular engineer who had the hands on experience that I was looking for. The purpose of the call was not to make a job offer but to decide if I wanted to spend company money to bring him to Ft. Collins and spend time with him face to face and have him meet other NCR employees.

We talked for approximately 20 minutes about semiconductor technical stuff; astrophysics did not come up because I know nothing about that subject and at the time it wasn’t important to me. At the end of the 20 minute phone call I invited him to fly from San Diego to Colorado to interview for the engineering job.

The change in career direction

It was then after the 20 minute phone call that he let me know that he may not stay in the semiconductor industry much longer because he had just published his first science fiction novel, “Sundiver”, and if it sold well he planned to be a full time writer.

Normally these phone calls don’t end like this. Usually there is either an agreement to arrange a trip or the candidate is not invited to make the trip. But to have the candidate turn down the invitation for a face to face interview after the screening phone call is highly irregular.

I read “Sundiver”

After work that day I drove straight to a local bookstore, one of those stores that is no longer with us. I went directly to the science fiction section and on the shelf at eye level was “Sundiver” by David Brin.

I took it home, started reading and after the first 20 pages I knew David Brin would not be a semiconductor engineer much longer and he was destined to be a successful writer.

I did not know he would be as successful as he has been or I would have kept my copy of his resume. It would have been a great souvenir – unfortunately it is long gone.

David Brin made a good career choice.

Sundiver by David Brin

Summary
I Met David Brin Once On The Telephone
Article Name
I Met David Brin Once On The Telephone
Description
I interviewed the famous science fiction author, David Brin, before he became a world famous writer.
Author

Comments

  1. Younan Shih says

    Great reading of a non-car related subject over the Thanksgiving weekend of the interesting encounter with Dr. Brin more than 30+ years ago.
    Let us hear more.
    Also looking forward to story of Iso, Bizzarrini and other cars.

  2. This was a great story! One never knows where the road of life will take us, and where the roads not taken would have detoured us to . Had Mr. Brin ended up working for you, the world would have lost a great science fiction writer, although you might have had a very competent engineer working for you. Any other anecdotal stories like this you have, please share them with us. You are an excellent story teller, whether about cars and other subjects. You might actually consider writing your own book at one point about European cars. Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

  3. I have not read any of David Brin’s books, but now I’m going to! What an interesting story, thank you.

  4. Thank you Younan, Glenn and Regina. Contrary to popular belief flattery does work with me.

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