The first person who changed my life, I never met. He or she left some old SF paperbacks in a little villa on Green Turtle Cay, in the Bahamas — Perry Rhodans, as I recall — and I read them while I was ten or so and on vacation. They blew me away, far more so than the golf books. I haven’t stopped reading SF yet.
That’s why my dad’s friend Peter Olotka said “Hey, your son likes SF — he can share our room at Boskone if you like.” Dad said sure, and that was my first SF con. I enjoyed the hell out of it, but I more or less stopped going when I hit college.
That wasn’t permanent, though, because I went on a youth group trip to China a year or so before I hit college. That’s where I met Stefani. Afterwards, she introduced me to her friend Pearl.
In college, Pearl met Susan, who organized trips to SF cons, which is why I started going to those again. Susan introduced me to Randomness. Randomess introduced me to TinyMUD. (The original one, at CMU, thank you very much.)
I met Gretchen on TinyMUD, and roleplayed with her on Amber, which is why I figured it might be worth taking a shot at San Francisco. Bruce, god bless him for this at least, got me the job at Netcom a few months after I got out there. That was my entry into high-tech.
I also met Rich on TinyMUD, and he’s why I can call myself a professional writer.
Time passed. Ambar suggested I come work for Altavista, which is where I got into management. I would have gotten into management at the other job I was considering at the time, but I wouldn’t have had one of the world’s biggest Web sites on my resume, and that made a difference later on.
Finally, Jamie Wakefield, who I’ve never met, wrote incredible articles about a game. If I hadn’t read those, I wouldn’t have applied for (and gotten) the job I applied for most recently.
And here I am.
There are many other people who changed who I am, and some of the people who’ve sent my life bouncing in wild new directions overlap with that category. But those are the people who’ve changed my life in terms of pinball.