Three Western Washington men who overcame potentially epic failures

Three Western Washington men who overcame potentially epic failures
07 Aug

Seattle’s Ben Thompson writes books about epic fails, but he says his heroes are the people who persevere.

“There’s a lot of really cool things that you can accomplish if you’re just willing to stick with it,” says Thompson.

Our first example is the late Tacoma author Frank Herbert who told the Today Show’s Bryant Gumbel he wrote science fiction for people who don’t read science fiction.

Herbert wrote the 400 page sci fi classic Dune.

“It took him 6 years and 23 rejection letters before he got Dune published,” Thompson said. “He’s building these huge worlds that people love today and 23 times he got rejection letters”.

Chilton Books, a publisher best known for car manuals finally took a chance with Dune in 1965.

“Now it’s the best selling science fiction book ever written,” said Thompson. “It sold like 12 million copies, published in 14 different languages and he just didn’t take no for an answer. “

Bremerton inventor James Russell also hated the word no…and bad audio.

“He didn’t like the sounds he was getting out of his record player,” said Thompson. “He eventually figured out he could use lasers to read data and store it digitally.”

Yep, in his basement way back in 1965, Russell invented the compact disc.

“For the next ten years he tried to pitch it to everybody as the future and everybody thought he was crazy,

thought he was bonkers,” said Thompson.

Until the 1980’s when the CD revolution began. DVD’s use similar technology.

“James Russell didn’t actually make a ton of money off of it,” said Thompson. “He’s not a multi-millionaire but when you read interviews with him it doesn’t seem like that was what he was going for anyway.”

We have time for one more. Lightning struck not once but twice as Apollo 12 took off with Poulsbo astronaut Dick Gordon in 1969.

“You’re rocketing to outer space strapped basically to a nuclear missile,” said Thompson. “There’s no turning back.”

Gordon can’t be sure whether the parachutes will deploy on re-entry.

“As the commander of the command module he had to keep his guys calm,” said Thompson. “I’m sure it was a very scary situation although he wouldn’t tell you that.”

The Apollo12 splashed down safely. It was another inspiring example of persistence.

“These people always seem to persevere and they stay strong and they keep going and they never give up,” said Thompson.

Evening is your guide to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Watch it weeknights at 7:30 on KING-TV Ch. 5 or streaming live on Connect with Evening via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Email.

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