Tag Archives: Bruce

Still Stalking Sterling: Dispatches from a Hyperlocal Future

I didn’t notice until I clicked through to it from my RSS reader that this lengthy ‘blog post from the future’ on Wired is by none other than my favourite cyberpunk author and all-round hand-waving Texan genius, Bruce Sterling.

I should have noticed, of course; in hindsight, it’s very much in his style. Although it doesn’t work exceptionally well on literary terms (it’s one big infodump with a framing concept), I doubt it is supposed to – and it’s well worth a read anyway. Here’s a snippet of news from 2017 as an example:

“Meanwhile, gray-haired representatives are wigging out over the hordes of Americans who blithely abandon their passports to travel the world with European mobiles. The Europeans let you do that. They understand that their hopelessly crufty nationware only impedes the flow of ever-stronger euros. Nobody wants to deal with nationware, not even in an emergency. It’s not granular enough, fast enough, close enough to the ground. If you lose everything you own in a flood or hurricane, who are you going to call — the federal bureaucracy?! Amazon.com, Google, Ikea, and Wal-Mart can deliver anything, anywhere, while the Feds are still stenciling their crates of surplus cheese.

It’s not about who salutes, folks. It’s about who delivers. Remember that. I said it first. You can link to me.”

Apparently there’s more to come, which promises to be fun. As well as being an interesting format with which to deliver futurist ideas (or ‘foresight consulting’, as I believe we’re supposed to call it now), I like the meta-ness of blogging a fictional blog from the future. It also highlights the potential for serialised short fiction to make a resurgence, if the authors can find the right hooks. Hmmm …

Still stalking Sterling – what is a spime?

Those of you who play the “VCTB Bruce Sterling drinking game” had best steel yourselves to down your beer in one.

This time round we have the inimitable Sterling on video at the Google campus, pitching a collaboration to a dissappointingly empty and unresponsive room. He’s talking about two concepts he mentions a lot these days: ‘spimes‘ and ‘the Internet of Things‘.

And this isn’t just some blind fanboy linkage, oh no. This is worth watching for sf writers, readers and critics – because not only is the concept of the Internet of Things definitely sf-nal, but also because Sterling talks about how difficult it is for an sf writer to imagine interfaces for the ideas they create. It ties together design, technology and fiction in one pitch. The other guy doing the presentation is a rather dull speaker, so you may wish to skip through him to Sterling’s ‘Q&A’* at the end, but if you have the time I’d recommend you watch it all.

[* Actually less of a Q&A than a pitch extension, as only two people have questions – not that Sterling’s going to let that stop him putting out the message.]

Bruce Sterling in full effect

Regular readers will be aware that I venerate Captain* Bruce Sterling as not only a damn fine author but also one of the greatest minds on the face of the planet. OK, so he’s never invented a new type of engine, or solved Fermat’s last theorem or anything like that, but he’s a synthesist; he can pull together all the disparate threads of the world and weave you a big scary rug from them – a rug with a pattern that makes sense.

If you want the proof, go and listen to a recording of Sterling speaking at the SXSW Interactive festival earlier this week. He talks about blogs, crowdsourcing, computers as unreliable platforms, climate change, terrorism and a whole raft of other stuff, and it’s all part of one continuous flowing thing. He’s a big-picture guy, and pretty damn funny at times to. Give up an hour, sit down and listen. I challenge you to not be challenged by the things he says.

[*As far as I know, the only person in the world who refers to Bruce Sterling as ‘Captain’ is me. I expect if I met him, and called him ‘Captain’, he’d have some very short sharp words to say. I wouldn’t care. I am not old enough to be completely beyond certain forms of hero-worship and placing-upon-pedestals.]