Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

The Inertia of Bad Ideas

Like anyone with impeccable good taste, my favorite comic strips are Farside and Calvin and Hobbes. And my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips usually involve a wagon or a sled barreling down a hill. Calvin is usually waxing philosophically, while Hobbes is asking if they should, perhaps, if Calvin doesn’t mind, consider slowing down or avoiding the cliff/tree/crash at the end. These strips embody the inertia of bad ideas. The problem with a bad idea is that it persists almost as readily as a good idea. It builds momentum. Like…

We Can’t Destroy Planet Earth

We can’t destroy planet Earth. I don’t think we can wipe out humanity, even with a concerted effort and every tool and resource at our disposal. This was my biggest challenge when writing WOOL. End-of-the-world scenarios were a popular trope at the time, and when I decided to share my take, my biggest challenge was coming up with a realistic scenario where all of humanity might be put in jeopardy. All-out nuclear warfare wouldn’t do it. Climate change won’t do it either. Neither will the rise of AI and robotics.…

The Tao of Writing a Novel

I love a good paradox. A paradox is a statement that on its face cannot possibly be true; it contradicts itself. The most famous and simplest paradox is: This statement is false. If the statement above is true, then its contents tell us that it’s false. But we’ve established that it is true! On the other hand, if the statement is false it admits that it is false, which makes the statement true. It hangs in the balance between true and false, tipping one way or the other depending on…

The Long Road to Oz

I made a dash for the garage as soon as the van pulled to a stop. Behind large wooden doors turned gray by the beating sun was a musty room that smelled of fish and sea salt and rust. Beach bikes hung from the ceiling; surfboards stood in a rack; there were fish gigs like Neptune’s scepters, nets, buckets, and rods. But all I cared about what was on the trailer. The doors leading out the back of the garage were held in place by a timber resting in two…

The Absolute and the Relative

One of my favorite game theory experiments is the Ultimatum Game. It involves two participants and a sum of money, let’s say a hundred dollars. Participant A gets to choose how the hundred bucks is divided. Participant B can choose to accept this offer or reject it. If they accept, both participants keep the cash as allotted. If Participant B rejects the offer, they both get nothing. What tends to happen is that Participant A is more generous than you’d expect, because a split that’s too unfair will be rejected.…