Markoff shares some of the most influential sci-fi books that helped him get a leg up as a tech reporter at the New York Times.
In 1988, when John Markoff was first offered a job at the New York Times — a place he thought he’d never work because he didn’t go to a school like Princeton — computing was still a highly technical, poorly understood industry.
Over the next three decades, he became one of the world’s leading tech journalists, a reputation he credits in part to his love of science fiction novels.
“What’s striking to me is that what the science fiction world saw in the ‘80s and ‘90s has actually come to pass,” Markoff said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “The cyberpunk sensibility.”
On the new podcast, he praised one non-fiction book, 1980’s “The Micro Millennium” by Christopher Evans, and one movie, 2013’s “Her,” for their prescience about tech.
“He just walked through, in a really prophetic way, how the emergence of the microprocessor was going to transform society,” Markoff said of Evans. “So I looked at that, and it really kind of intrigued me.”
He also peppered the conversation with recommendations of sci-fi books that helped him get a leg up on other reporters in the field:
- “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson (1992): “The premise is, America only does two things well. One is write software, and the other is deliver pizzas.