jedcstuff

2010-03-13

Writing sci fi re management

In writing my sci fi novels, I often use the technique of exaggerating some of the features I had experienced in my life. Working for about 45 years got me lots of contact with employers, primarily in the field of electronics. My novels often have picked on management as being arrogant and tyrannical, bent on enslaving the workers; as I said, an exaggeration of some of my experiences in life.

But it is also true that there were really considerate managers, and the whole spectrum in between. And even managers have their ups and downs. But in writing a hopefully entertaining story, it is the colorful characteristics that need to be accentuated or even noticed enough to put down on adventurous paper.

One of the finest managers I experienced, was also at what was probably the highest point of my employed life. At least the electronics parts. I was working for Shugart Associates, then a subsidiary of the Xerox Corporation. Alastair Heaslett was my last manager I worked for there; one day during my performance review, he said that I was at the very top of the pay scale for top level senior electronic engineering technicians, and that to receive higher pay, I would have to accept an engineer position. I said that I did not want to be an engineer, it would require too much analytical work, and I preferred to do hands-on work. He then said that I had been working for the past year and a half in an engineer's capacity, so there would be no change. And in fact I then became a second level Design Development Electronics Engineer; I could take a whole project, conceptualize how to do it, design it, assemble equipment and build special equipment also needed, perform the experiments, and deliver the data in the form of a report, which I did on the current project, that of characterizing the effects of temperature and humidity on various potential floppy disk material for read-write use. After that I began to explore some servo digital ideas for disk drives; but then the manufacturing went overseas for the key parts of floppy disk drives, and the whole floppy disk manufacturing and engineering division got laid off. Alastair wrote me a nice letter recommending that I continue to stay at the engineer level, that I was well capable, another indication of how considerate and fine a manger he was.

So I need to write a sci fi novel that accentuates that experience, just to have it all balanced, I think.

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2 Comments:

  • My name is Rosanna Heaslett-Brown and Alastair is my father. What a wonderful thing ot know he had an impact on you such that so many years later you write about him! My fahter would be so happy! He loved helping people.... Sadly he passed away in 1999 from cancer at 57... I miss him everyday- and having someone like you recall a fond memory makes him live on.... thank you!

    By Blogger Anna, At 11:59 PM  

  • Thank you very much, Rosanna. It was very kind of you to post that comment. I have often wondered what had become of Alastair after the big layoff from Shugart Corp. My own life entered a severe struggle period; no one would hire me as a non-degreed engineer with so many degreed ones out of work too, and they would not hire me as a technician saying that I would not be happy going back to being a technician. The struggle must have eaten away at him too, sadly; stored frustrations are thought to fuel cancer. So sad. I'm glad that he had such a fine daughter like you to survive him. Thank you again for commenting!

    By Blogger Jim, At 9:06 AM  

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