Mysterious Startup Magic Leap Recruited A Legendary Writer With A Sword From Lord Of The Rings


Neal StephensonTwitter / Magic Leap Neal Stephenson with the sword

Magic Leap, a mysterious augmented reality startup that raised $542 million in October from Google, Qualcomm, and others, just hired legendary science fiction author Neal Stephenson as its Chief Futurist.


It wasn't your typical recruitment process: The company first enticed Stephenson, who is most famous for his novel Snow Crash, to consider the job by showing up at his house with Orcrist the Goblin-clever, a sword from "Lord of the Rings."

Sir Richard Taylor, founder of Weta Workshop, the special effects team behind movies like "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," is on Magic Leap's board, after all. As an introduction, the Orcrist worked. 

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"It's not every day that someone turns up at your house bearing a mythic sword," he writes on Magic Leap's blog, "And so I did what anyone who has read a lot of fantasy novels would: I let them in and gave them beer," he writes. "True to form, they invited me on a quest and asked me to sign a contract (well, an NDA actually)."

Although Stephenson didn't get to keep the sword, the startup's technology convinced him to join when he visited Magic Leap's office in Florida. 


"Magic Leap is mustering an arsenal of techniques - some tried and true, others unbelievably advanced - to produce a synthesized light field that falls upon the retina in the same way as light reflected from real objects in your environment," he writes. 

As Chief Futurist, Stephenson will be charged with thinking of creative ways Magic Leap's tech can be used once it's available to the public. 

Stephenson's 1992 novel "Snow Crash" was one of the first to envision a virtual-reality version of the internet, known as the Metaverse.

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