On stage at a conference, Stephenson was complaining, “there are no big scientific projects to inspire people these days," he said. But Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State, shot back, "You're the one slacking off." By "you," he meant science fiction writers.
“I had always kind of imagined that ... science fiction followed after what the engineers were doing,” Stephenson says, “but Michael insisted that the engineers were ready to go. They had the tools, they had the willingness, and that the science fiction writers were no longer pulling their weight by supplying compelling visions of things for the engineers to build.”
When he thought about it, Stephenson had a strong realization: “Guilty as charged.”