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Interview: Ask Bruce Sterling What You Will 60

One of the founders of the cyberpunk genre, Bruce Sterling needs little introduction to science fiction fans. You can read what "Chairman Bruce" has to say at Beyond the Beyond on Wired and the Sterling tumblr. He has agreed to to sit down and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Interview: Ask Bruce Sterling What You Will

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  • Parallels ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:14PM (#45727377) Homepage

    Do you feel that a lot of what is happening right now is eerily similar to some of the "what ifs" which cyberpunk has been talking about for decades?

    Some days, it seems like everything is unfolding right before our eyes straight out of Orwell and Huxley, and people are embracing it as normal.

    • Better yet, I'd like to know how modern day has differed from what they were expecting in the 80's.

      • It's scarier, and no longer fiction. :-P

      • by znrt ( 2424692 )

        Better yet, I'd like to know how modern day has differed from what they were expecting in the 80's.

        we didn't expect cyberspace to become one single gigantic and depressing shopping mall. we were naive.

    • +1, and also with reference to "The Difference Engine", co-authored with William Gibson.
  • Is it your favourite movie?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Looking at your bibliography, the books that I know I've read of yours are The Artificial Kid and Holy Fire. I actually think of bits (skull cannons and immaturity from longevity treatments) from these books on occasion, and was wondering what other books you would recommend from your publications that would attract a magpie?


  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:30PM (#45727561)

    What is Alice and Bob's secret?

    • What is Alice and Bob's secret?

      Alice and Bob are actually the same person trying not to be found out by Nelson, Steve, and Adam. ;-)

  • Who?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:35PM (#45727625)

    I have no idea who Bruce Sterling is and I'm a huge sci-fi fan too. Its quite possible to enjoy sci-fi without knowing who wrote, directed it or who created it's genre. Some introduction would have been nice or even just a link to his Wikipedia page (

    • The candle you lit would have been more meaningful if you hadn't spent so much time cursing the darkness.

    • I have no idea who Bruce Sterling is and I'm a huge sci-fi fan too.

      Then, hope you don't mind if I interject some recommendations. :-) Set in the near future, Holy Fire is an intimate look at the implication of life-extension and the meaning of youth (but not in a philosophically ponderous way... it's more of a wild chase). Incidentally, it includes a lot of fashion/clothing, which may not sound like a strong selling point, but it definitely broadens the appeal and accessibility of the work outside traditional sci-fi audiences. Technically speaking, I feel it's his most w

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Agreed. Holy Fire is not only a great work of speculative fiction for its own sake, it's a tour-de-force of what advances in biotechnology could mean to societies on various points in the political spectrum.

        In the youth communes of Europe, biotechnology has essentially 'solved' the tragedy of the commons by creating symbiotic lichen castles which will literally eat your shit and reprocess it. It's a comfortable enough life, if you can deal with perpetual subsistence.

        Meanwhile, America is caught in a self-en

  • Writing method (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:37PM (#45727637)

    Do you use any formal method to writing, such as the snowflake method? Also, do you recommend any software tools for writing?

  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:44PM (#45727707)

    I get a bit of pessimism from almost all near future sci-fi, but I'm wondering if you feel more pessimistic about where humanity is, and is headed, now.. or back when you started writing?

  • by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:48PM (#45727747) Journal
    Back when you were wrote the Hacker Crackdown, you described a world where ham-handed and overly zealous law enforcement and hacker culture collided, and predicted more of the same in the future. How has modern day law enforcement evolved in terms of its approach since that time, in what ways is it more savvy, and in what ways does it still strike you as draconian or clumsy in its approach.
  • by pillageplunder ( 183475 ) <> on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:49PM (#45727769)

    When you went on your little tirade back around 1984 regarding Jerry Pournelle & David Drake's writings and comparing them to Pornography, (I believe you used the term war-porn) we as a country were but 9 years past the Vietnam Debacle. Your intense might use the word Hatred of these two authors in particular and anything having to do with the Military in general was something I never understood. Flash-forward to 2013...With over 2.5 Million Americans having been deployed to Afghanistan and/or Iraq (over 400,000 deployed three or more times and 37,000 of those deploying 5 times or more), are you still of the belief that Science Fiction stories written by veterans depicting combat are nothing more than "war porn?" For someone who has never served in the military, why do you believe you are an expert on what constitutes "war Porn" vs Military Science Fiction?

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      With over 2.5 Million Americans having been deployed to Afghanistan and/or Iraq (over 400,000 deployed three or more times and 37,000 of those deploying 5 times or more), are you still of the belief that Science Fiction stories written by veterans depicting combat are nothing more than "war porn?"

      That wars happen has never been in question, the question was whether a David Drake make war more likely-- did this kind of stuff encourage fantasies like "I am a tough-minded realist, willing to face squarely

  • by RDW ( 41497 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:57PM (#45727851)

    In his Slashdot interview back in 2004, Neal Stephenson told us about the epic battles that he, William Gibson and you were fighting: []

    One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling's professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers' conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments.

    So, can the story now be told? Who was the eventual winner?

  • Looking back with a little bit of perspective (after the NSA revelations), what do you think of 'The Zenith Angle' now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Your Mirrorshades anthology introduced me to so many great authors, and really just got me addicted to the entire cyberpunk sub-genre. Any chance you'll collect another great set of authors for a sequel?

  • Do you even lift?

  • Bruce, What you will?

  • Hey, Bruce.

    What is your current feeling on the current trends in fiction - in book form, manga, anime, TV, and film - have we gone away from hard SF towards science fiction focused on relationships and societies, or is this just a surface trend as we deal with the actual implications of reality and the near future?

    And, in terms of that, do you think 2020 will be the way many writers thought it would be, or is it vastly different?

  • by ninjagin ( 631183 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @03:57PM (#45729081)
    Have you had (or received) any interest in bringing the Artificial Kid to film? Thanks.
  • Some of my favorite stories were set in the world of the shapers and machinists. Stories such as 20 Evocations and ideas like the super brights. Do you plan to write any more stories dealing with that universe?
  • ...why are you such a coporate stooge, and why can't you write any decent SF?

    Just asking . . . .
  • What is your favorite novel that you have ever read? Favorite short story?
  • It stands out in your body of work as a steaming pile of used hay. It was written after your "retirement." I am quite pleased that y's theou've continued to write fiction - Zeitgeist would have been a fine last book, but I've enjoyed almost everything you've written since then. Zenith Angle, however, was a true stinker. After my friends and I read it, we would often smoke and speculate that Someone In Government paid you more than your usual per-word rate to come out of retirement to write some recruiting m

  • I keep saying that if I were President, I'd appoint you head of the TSA. Would you accept? If not, who would you recommend for the job?

    • Duh, Bruce *Sterling*, not Bruce *Schneier*. Still, this Bruce's perspective might get interesting...

  • The PC is dead, as you gloriously noted at SXSWi this year. Michael Dell is now officially back at the helm.

    What is your advice to Michael Dell?


  • Assuming that you do read books, the dead-tree type, what genre of books do you like ?

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.