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Quotes of the day: Bruce Sterling

Published Sunday, April 14, 2013 @ 1:21 AM EDT
Apr 14 2013

Bruce Sterling is an Austin-born (April 14, 1954) science fiction writer and Net critic, internationally recognized as a cyberspace theorist who is also still based there. However, as a child he also spent a lot of time in India, which can partly explain why today still Sterling is fond of Bollywood movies. Sterling studied journalism. He published his first book, Involution Ocean, in 1977. However, he first started becoming famous in Austin by organizing every year a Christmas party where he would present digital art. In the 80s Sterling published Cheap Truth, a series of fanzines, which are magazines for fans of a particular performer, group, or form of entertainment. He did so under the surprising but revealing pen name of Vincent Omniaveritas. In latin, "vincit omnia veritas" means "truth conquers all things". Sterling's writings have been very influential in the cyberpunk movement in literature, specifically the novels Heavy Weather (1994), Islands in the Net (1988), Schismatrix (1985), The Artificial Kid (1980).


Another world is inevitable. The future is unwritten. Good luck to you.

As you accumulate more history you get more interested in history, but the great benefit of youth is that you don't have to forget that stuff is impossible.

Being afraid of monolithic organizations, especially when they have computers, is like being afraid of really big gorillas, especially when they are on fire.

Chaos is the worst kind of oppression because there is nothing to resist.

Don't become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull.

Forget trying to pass for normal. Follow your geekdom. Embrace nerditude.

I criticize stuff that doesn't exist yet.

I don't think there's much distinction between surveillance and media in general. Better media means better surveillance. Cams are everywhere.

I frankly take a lot of comfort in the idea that we human beings just don't know what's going on.

I used to think that cyberspace was 50 years away. What I thought was 50 years away, was only ten years away. And what I thought was ten years away... it was already here. I just wasn't aware of it yet.

I'd suggest trying to imagine somebody in the year 2062 sitting down to read 'the best tweets of 2012.' Does that prospect sound at all plausible to you? I'm a blogger and I'm very keen on randomly-assembled narrative chunks, but I've always known that blog content has a short shelf-life. It's like doing stand-up comedy.

I'm an entertainer in the military-entertainment complex.

If poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, science-fiction writers are its court jesters.

If politics and business fail us, of course the military will be called in. In the developing world, the massive and repeated ecological disasters are quite commonly met by the military.

If we're like most civilizations, we're going to leave some of our most effective clues to ourselves in our garbage. We've got plenty of it, too. We've got pyramids of garbage.

If you're willing to wear an ascot or a tiara, you should be guaranteed real butter on your potatoes and a decent cappuccino at any time.

In a way, staring into a computer screen is like staring into an eclipse. It's brilliant and you don't realize the damage until it's too late.

In a world so redolent with wonder, how can we allow ourselves to conduct our daily lives with so little insight, such absence of dignity?

Information wants to be free, but it also wants to be archived. Time is no kinder to information than it is to any mythical substance.

It's a truism in technological development that no silver lining comes without its cloud.

It's one thing to talk softly and carry a big stick, but it's another to talk endlessly and have no stick at all.

On some deeper level, science fiction writers truly are cultural allies of scientists. We have a whole lot of the same enemies, and anyone who wants to hurt them, wants to hurt us. Also, we both get all depressed when we see stupid people being happy.

One of the points about distractions is that everything that they do is destabilizing.

People are going to combine the computation thing and the genetic biological thing and going to start actually tinkering with people's thought processes in an industrial way. And if you thought LSD was a lot of fun, wait until this really works.

People are never scared by the commonplaces of daily life, no matter how risky they are.

Privacy under what circumstance? Privacy at home under what circumstances? You have more privacy if everyone's illiterate, but you wouldn't really call that privacy. That's ignorance.

Remember, high-tech means breaks down next week, while cutting edge means breaks down this afternoon.

Saying you have a political solution is like saying you can write a pop song that's going to stay at the top of the list forever.

Science fiction writers are not as bad as apocalyptic conspiracy theorists (except for the ones who are apocalyptic conspiracy theorists), but they're not the kinds of personalities you actually want in positions of power and authority. Science fiction writers like amazing and wonderful and freaky and dreadful stuff. They get bored with the dull stuff, like making sure your kids have shoes and plumbing and your population has civil rights.

The future is unwritten. Cyberspace is the funhouse mirror of our own society, reflects our values and our faults, sometimes in terrifying exaggerations. It doesn't matter who you are today, if you don't show up in that mirror you are just not going to matter very much. Our kids have to show up in the mirror.

The ruins of the unsustainable are the 21st century's frontier.

There's one thing worse than being young and full of stormy tantrums, and that's being old and backward-looking and crotchety.

They stole our revolution and now we're stealing it back and selling it to Yahoo.

To me, 'sustainability' means a situation in which your descendants are able to confront their own problems, rather than the ones you exported to them.

Unlike human beings, computers possess the truly profound stupidity of the inanimate.

War as Napoleon knew it is just not possible any more. However, we're very unlikely to accept or recognize world peace even when we get it.

We might be on the brink of an apocalypse if, instead of poor people with suicide bombs killing middle class people, middle-class people with suicide bombs started killing rich guys.

World-changing marvels to us, are only wallpaper to our children.

You give a guy a license to steal, you've got to expect him to use it.

You should never be surprised if your most effective, most influential writing is writing no publisher will pay for.

You're always going to be followed by your data shadow, which is forming from thousands and thousands of little leaks and tributaries of information.

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