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On Buckminster Fuller


3/15/22


For me one of the greatest joys in writing is incorporating ideas I’m passionate about. My latest novel, Oh Great, Another Vampire Book, begins with this quote: “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”—R. Buckminster Fuller. Fuller’s presence looms large in my tale as someone considered a futurist among other things. I put him in the same category as other inventors who— through a combination of science, technology, and art— manifest a vision for the betterment of humankind.


In my book, Fuller’s principles are at the core of a vampire group who form The Fuller Circle in Western Massachusetts. Consisting of scientists and engineers, their goal is to create technologies related to ecological sustainability— a concept crucial to immortal beings. Fuller championed this mindset, putting forth the notion of our planet as “spaceship Earth.” He urged the concept of “doing more with less” through problem-solving designs, most notably the Geodesic Dome constructed of inter-connected triangles.


Born in 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts, “Bucky” (as he was affectionately known) displayed an early predilection for nonconformist thinking. Having poor eyesight, he couldn’t see shapes clearly in Kindergarten. When his teacher asked the class to make structures out of toothpicks and peas, most made little houses with 90 degree angles. Bucky instead made triangles. (Kudos for thinking out of the box!) He later realized triangles are the geometric shape possessing the most tensile strength. His outspokenness in high school math class and later in college led to expulsion from Harvard.


Luckily he had a family inheritance, and eventually the government recognized the merit of his firm, Geodesics, Inc. He was tasked with manufacturing his signature geodesic domes for Marine troops. The U.S. Naval Academy also recognized him for inventing a wrench-like mechanism with a long rope that could be deployed quickly by pilots. This prevented countless pilots from crashing to their deaths.


There’s a scene in my book where a lead scientist from The Fuller Circle is interviewed about their latest projects. I mention a Dymaxion House the scientist is building alongside Elon Musk. I draw the obvious connection between Bucky and Elon as innovators with an eye to the future.


Fuller’s Dymaxion principle is a combination of dynamic, maximum, and tension.The house never reached prominence. A 1929 Boston Globe article stated he “Hangs his house from a mast instead of resting it on the ground.” Implicit was the recurring perception of his ideas as too radical. I wanted to reference the house in my book because it is radical— the dwelling resembles a rotating spaceship. I love how his intentions are good; as with his domes, he innovated building materials to sustain weight and efficiency. In fact, in 1928 he sought to address a housing shortage.


I also reference Fuller’s experimental Dymaxion car— perhaps the thing Elon has most in common with him. It was designed to be fuel efficient, and had three wheels allowing it to turn on a dime. (There’s footage of Amelia Earhart hanging out with Bucky, sitting in the backseat of one!) But alas— the Dymaxion car never took off so to speak as it was deemed structurally unstable.


Architect, futurist, systems theorist, author, inventor. I’d argue R. Buckminster Fuller is the modern man most deserving of comparison to Leonardo DaVinci. What an inspiration he is to me and also the scientific community. “Bucky balls” is the moniker coined for Carbon molecules with a structural resemblance to geodesic spheres. One could say he had balls for being so bold.


I now conclude with a quote from Fuller that captures his relevance in the cultural zeitgeist depicted in my book— a reality in which an anti-hero is a goddess given permission from God to change the world as she sees fit:


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — R. Buckminster Fuller


Diane Hunter is the author of Oh Great, Another Vampire Book. Visit her at dianehunterauthor.com


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