Sep 13th 2012 by sephalon • 50 Questions • 1585 Points
My story, The Egg was frontpaged here last week.
So, thanks for that! And thanks for the many emails I got about the story. Some folks suggested I do an AMA. I am very inexperienced in the ways of Reddit, but here I am.
Edit: Proof of me. This is posted to galactanet, my website, which is also where The Egg resides. Hopefully that's proof enough for folks.
Finale: All right folks. It's bed time. Thanks for your questions and thanks for reading my stories. If you have anything to say or further questions to ask, you can always drop me a line. My email address is posted on my writing site
Just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed The Egg. Nice and short, thought provoking, well written. 10/10. Thanks for the story.
Do you have any plans for other stories?
Yes, I have a page dedicated to my writing. I recently finished The Martian, which is a full-length novel, and there are a number of one-off short stories on the page if you're more in to that.
Andy, this may sound odd, but I took your story very seriously.
It's kinda made me look at the way I treat people every day.
Not just friends, not just family... but random people...
People walking down the street, strangers in the park, young people, old people...
Thinking not necessarily that they are me, but honestly envisioning their experience and their life. Making sure that if I saw it from their eyes, that my impact would be one of positivity at the very least....
Good story, friend.
Cool, I'm glad it had that effect.
Love the story! What made you decide to sit down and write it?
I wanted to come up with some way to look at the world such that life was fair. A way where everyone came out even in the end. This is what I came up with.
I just read this, and my first and only question is, "what do you believe?" aside, That was wonderful. Thank you.
I get asked that a lot. No, I don't believe the universe really is that way. It's just a story. It's how I wish the universe was, but not how I think it is.
First, I love the story. It's something I always point people to after having any kind of moral, life, religion debate or talk. It always gives me perspective and it's something I thing everyone could benefit from.
A couple questions for you:
How did you come up with this thought process? It seems like you were doing some deep soul searching but you stated elsewhere in this Q&A that it isn't something you believe, so, where did it come from.
What do you believe?
Thank you again for the awesome story. It's something that I will never forget.
It originally came up because I was having an argument with my aunt. I thought her point of view was ridiculous. Then, later I figured if I had lived her life, her opinion would make perfect sense to me. That got me thinking about a system where people live each others' lives. Also, I had wanted to come up with a system where the world was "fair". That eventually led me to The Egg.
My actual belief is I am agnostic. I know it sounds like a cop-out, and it probably is, but it's accurate. I just don't know what happens after you die, and I can't be sure about anyone's theory.
First off, good on you responding to every question (so far)!
And of course, your story really affected me, etc. not trying to downplay it, but I'm sure the constant flattery must be a tad dull by now.
Question to you, how did you want the reader to feel about the story. What did you intend to impact us with while writing it?
And also, how did you feel when The Egg exploded onto the Internet? I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that The Egg is one of the most well known short stories of our time.
I wanted the reader to change their mindset (if only for a short time) and start imagining themselves really being the people they meet. My favorite fan mails are the ones where people say things like "The other day I got cut off in traffic and was mad as hell, then I thought hey, maybe he's late for work, or upset about a death in the family."
I love it when people think like that. Obviously I'm not going to permanently change anyone's point of view or personality. But if I can make them look at things from a different angle just for a few minutes, I'm pretty proud.
As for the popularity, It's great. I've been a wannabe writer since I was a kid, and I finally made a story that people really like.
Dear Mr. Weir,
Your story caused a paradigm shift in my brain. A beautiful idea such as that puts a person on a lovely and different intellectual plateau than they are accustomed to, and floods their head with new questions, new appreciations, and a more empathetic perspective.
I firmly believe that my primary reason for existence is to learn via empirical and imaginative means. With that motivation in mind, you've given me a gift beyond price in a concise, enjoyable medium. I thank you from the core of my soul.
If you're ever in Phoenix, I'd be honored to buy you a beer.
Your Pal, David
Thanks, I'm glad it had such a positive effect.
Also, free beer if I go to Phoenix! Sweet.
I was going to compose a response that accurately summed up how profound 'The Egg' was for me. I can't do any better than this so I'll just co-sign.
Mr. Weir, if you're ever in Honolulu I'll buy you a beer and show you the sights.
I'm now making a list of cities where I can get a free beer...
Nothing major, but some fun trivia about my life:
I am a computer programmer and I worked for Blizzard on Warcraft II (yes I'm that old).
Though I will never be able to prove it, I invented the "Socially Awesome Penguin" image macro meme (as a response to "Socially Awkward Penguin" which was popular at the time).
I don't have a question, I just want to say thanks for writing "The Egg" it really made me think, back a million years ago when I read it the first time. It actually shaped the way I look at the universe a fair bit.
Well, thanks. :)
Ah man, I love that story.
It's always had a fairly strong presence on the internet, sort of a cult following. I've seen crop up a few times on my years online, on several different websites, reddit included.
It is by far my most popular work. Which is funny because I wrote it in under an hour.
I think it's had about 3 million views since I first posted it. 1 million of those were from a single day last week when it got frontpaged here.
The main thing is to actually write. Don't try to plan everything out first, just get to work.
It's very easy to procrastinate by daydreaming about ideas for your story instead of actually writing it. Especially if you have supportive friends who will listen to you tell them the story. That's the worst, because is fulfills your need for an audience and diminishes your drive to actually do the work.
The most useful thing you can do is actually sit down and start writing. Worst case scenario is you delete the file.
Your story is extremely inspiring, but I just noticed how insecurely configured your apache server is! You should disable directory indices in order to prohibit this: http://www.galactanet.com/pics/
Another poster convinced me to make and post this.
So for whatever my word is worth, I'll confirm that this is the real thing.
For those who don't know, I also made Casey and Andy
CaseyG is the Casey.
I love your story, and I may be taking a stage directing class next spring. Is there any chance I could use your story as my script to be presented as a short one-act play?
Sure. I have a general film policy that can apply to stage productions as well. Obviously, with no digital version available, I wouldn't expect you to "post" it anywhere.
Your story sent chills down my spine. I don't know what else to say other then it's good. It made me feel similar to the first time I watched the Futurama episode "Godfellas" where Bender is lost in space and has a chat with god.
Well as long as it didn't make you feel like the time you watched "Jurassic Bark".
Relevant username. Any correlation to my story? Or just pure coincidence?
I've dabbled in writing short stories, and most of the ones of written were supposed to deliver a "message." I want my writing to touch people and maybe even change the way they think, like the way The Egg did. The problem is, having a message takes a lot of finesse. I either end up being too vague and I confuse the reader, or the message is so strong and obvious it's like I'm pounding it down the reader's throat. What are your tips for writing a story that has a message but is still good literature?
Interesting question. When I write I don't try to convey a message. I just want to make an interesting story that will be fun to read. To me, stories are purely for entertainment. I know that sounds odd because "The Egg" seems to have a strong message attached. But really I just wanted a story that would make people go "woah" and be entertained.
There's a pretty fine line between conveying a message and coming off as preachy. I guess the trick would be to construct a story around the message such that the message isn't shown as some moral absolute, but instead as a subjective choice. Then demonstrate that the subjective choice leads to a better life.
But I'm just brainstorming here. I really never try to have a moral in my stories, so I'm probably not the right guy to ask about how to do it.
This probably seems self-serving, but I figured you've answered myriad questions about The Egg and was wondering if you wouldn't mind giving a bit of advice, because you seem wise and stuff. There's a girl in Denmark who likes me. We've been talking about three months, and I have a month off of work because of weird contract issues. I want to fly over and spend a week or two with her. Anyway, I have always wanted to do something wonderfully crazy, it's not the dumbest thing I've done financially and it's awful not being with her. (I'm American). Any wise writer advice?
I'll gladly accept downvotes if this is dumb, and I'll delete it if it's a horrible question, but you can't write The Egg without some great life experience.
I'm not an expert on relationships but what I'm gathering here is:
- Girl in Denmark likes you, you like her
- You have money and time off
Consider this: 30 years from now do you think you'll say "Boy I sure am glad I saved a few hundred bucks by not going to Denmark back in 2012 to be with the woman of my dreams."
Why are you not in Denmark right now? Get off reddit. Order your ticket. Go go go.
Just to play devils advocate a bit... ;)
As beautiful a concept as the story is, what are your thoughts on the logical result of the story's premise: that nothing anyone does actually matters, because it's all part of each of their own individual fragment's learning process toward enlightenment? Meaning, not that there's no free will, but that things like murder aren't objectively bad, because you're just killing yourself?
Sorry for being such a downer, just curious to know if you've considered this :) It really is a great story, I wrote something similar when I was younger and a friend of mine died. As a skeptic though I couldn't help but consider what might happen if a story like yours was the beginning of a new faith, and whether the extremists of that faith would believe as I've outlined: everyone is me, I am everyone, so I can do no wrong, and everything that happens furthers the meta-me's conscious evolution.
Thanks for the AMA and the story!
Oh it gets way worse than that!
How about this: "Hey, the sooner I run through all these human lives, the sooner I become a God. So the faster people die, the better we all are. Genocide is therefore good. Not just for me, but even for the victims of it!"
And if it were a real religion it wouldn't take long before people started thinking things like "some incarnations are older and wiser than others. I'm sure MY ethnicity is way later in the sequence than other ethnicities..."
saw this a couple years back. stumbleupon. real inspiring. where can we find more of your writing?
That was an extremely thought provoking work that you wrote. I actually plan to present it to my professor to talk more in depth about it. I would love to hear some notes about it. I recently read Bachee by Euripides and found that to be and interesting piece, what i learned about Euripides himself helped me understand the work better. If you don't mind, I would like to hear some background on yourself:
Where did you grow up? What are your religious views? What are your political views? What line of work are you in?
Thanks so much!
Grew up: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, California.
Religion: I am agnostic. I know that's a cop-out, but I don't have a better answer. And no, I don't believe The Egg is reality. It's just a story.
Politics: On social issues I am very liberal, as you can probably expect from me growing up in the Bay Area. But on fiscal matters I'm conservative. I work hard to keep my political views out of my stories. Nobody wants to be preached at.
Work: I'm a computer programmer. My specialty is mobile development (apps for iPhones, Android, etc.). I've done that for the last 10 years. I've been doing programming in general for almost 25 years.
Age: After reading the "Work" segment, you'll probably wonder how old I am. I'm 40.
I really loved The Martian. Amazing story that kept me reading all night.
Your story is really awesome man. I taught a lesson about it to my Philosophy class in school haha good stuff. Where can your other written works be found, id love to check those out..
I would thank you for showing me this.... But it is oddly self serving. Thank you me!
No problem, You.
How do you feel about the upcoming movie Cloud Atlas, seeing that it's almost connected to your story?
This is the first I've heard about Cloud Atlas, so I don't know how it is similar to The Egg. However, according to its Wikipedia page, the novel that the movie is based on was published in 2004, two years before I first posted The Egg. So I certainly can't get mad at anything that's in the book.
I remember reading your story several months ago after it was posted on a site I used to manage, RUckmakers.com. It's a very interesting piece. Have you ever thought of writing a complete novel based on the idea?
Also, as a struggling novice writer myself (finished writing one novel, and then while I was waiting for it to be edited, started writing a completely different one), do you have any advice on how to best get work published?
I don't think The Egg is an interesting enough story to pull a reader through an entire novel. I think part of its appeal is that it's so short and to-the-point.
As for getting published, I'm the wrong guy to talk to. I'm purely a hobbyist. I've never been published.
I must say, although "The Egg" was impressive, I'm a huge fan of "The Martian"! It was an intense read, had me up all night at the edge of my seat. No questions here, but thank you for writing such awesome pieces!
I'm really happy that so many people are bringing up The Martian. I enjoyed writing it and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It gets drowned out by The Egg, but I really think The Martian is my best work.
What is the most thought-provoking philosophical work you have read yourself? Your story is most definitely mine thus far.
Also, do you think my friends did the story any justice? They did this film of The Egg in about a week.
I'd have to say Asimov's "The Last Question" made me stop and think more than any other story I've read. It's among my favorite short stories ever.
I don't really comment on specific film versions of The Egg because inevitably people will create rankings based on my answers. I don't really want to be a film critic, so I'll just duck the question. :)
It's an awesome story and one that made me see the world in a new light (as seems to be the case with others here), so thanks for writing it. When I first saw it, it was years ago as a screengrab of a 4chan post. Does it get frustrating at all to have your work well known but your authorship less so? Also, have you considered making it the premise for any other medium such as a short film/anime (ala those matrix ones) etc? I'm sure there are some great people out there who would love to work it into something script-like and animate it.
It does bug me when people think it was invented by 4chan. I guess I don't mind being unknown, but I do mind someone (or something) else getting credit for what I wrote.