Bruce Sterling

Michael Bruce Sterling (born April 14, 1954) is an American science fiction author known for his novels and work on the Mirrorshades anthology. This work helped to define the cyberpunk genre.[1]

Bruce Sterling
BornApril 14, 1954 (age 64)
Brownsville, Texas
Pen nameVincent Omniaveritas (in fanzine Cheap Truth)
OccupationWriter, speaker, futurist, design instructor
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin (B.A., Journalism, 1976)
Period1970s – present
GenreScience fiction
Literary movementCyberpunk/postcyberpunk

Bruce Sterling signature


Sterling is one of the founders of the cyberpunk movement in science fiction, along with William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, Lewis Shiner, and Pat Cadigan. In addition, he is one of the subgenre's chief ideological promulgators. This has earned him the nickname "Chairman Bruce".[2] He was also one of the first organizers of the Turkey City Writer's Workshop, and is a frequent attendee at the Sycamore Hill Writer's Workshop. He won Hugo Awards for his novelettes Bicycle Repairman and Taklamakan. His first novel, Involution Ocean, published in 1977, features the world Nullaqua where all the atmosphere is contained in a single, miles-deep crater. The story concerns a ship sailing on the ocean of dust at the bottom, which hunts creatures called dustwhales that live beneath the surface. It is partially a science-fictional pastiche of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

From the late 1970s onwards, Sterling wrote a series of stories set in the Shaper/Mechanist universe: the solar system is colonised, with two major warring factions. The Mechanists use a great deal of computer-based mechanical technologies; the Shapers do genetic engineering on a massive scale. The situation is complicated by the eventual contact with alien civilizations; humanity eventually splits into many subspecies, with the implication that many of these effectively vanish from the galaxy, reminiscent of The Singularity in the works of Vernor Vinge. The Shaper/Mechanist stories can be found in the collection Crystal Express and the collection Schismatrix Plus, which contains the original novel Schismatrix and all of the stories set in the Shaper/Mechanist universe. Alastair Reynolds identified Schismatrix and the other Shaper/Mechanist stories as one of the greatest influences on his own work.[3]

Bruce Sterling at ARE 2010
Bruce Sterling at the 2010 Augmented Reality Event

In the 1980s, Sterling edited the science fiction critical fanzine Cheap Truth under the alias of Vincent Omniaveritas. He wrote a column called Catscan for the now-defunct science fiction critical magazine SF Eye.

He contributed a chapter to Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture (The MIT Press, 2008) edited by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky. He also contributed, along with Lewis Shiner, to the short story "Mozart in Mirrorshades".

From April 2009 through May 2009, he was an editor at Cool Tools.[4]

Since October 2003[5] Sterling has blogged at "Beyond the Beyond", which is hosted by Wired.

His most recent novel (as of 2013) is Love Is Strange (December 2012), a Paranormal Romance (40k).


He has been the instigator of three projects which can be found on the Web -

  • The Dead Media Project - A collection of "research notes" on dead media technologies, from Incan quipus, through Victorian phenakistoscopes, to the departed video game and home computers of the 1980s. The Project's homepage, including Sterling's original Dead Media Manifesto can be found at
  • The Viridian Design Movement - his attempt to create a "green" design movement focused on high-tech, stylish, and ecologically sound design.[6] The Viridian Design home page, including Sterling's Viridian Manifesto and all of his Viridian Notes, is managed by Jon Lebkowsky at The Viridian Movement helped to spawn the popular "bright green" environmental weblog Worldchanging. WorldChanging contributors include many of the original members of the Viridian "curia".
  • Embrace the Decay - a web-only art piece commissioned by the LA Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003.[7] Incorporating contributions solicited through The Viridian Design 'movement', Embrace the Decay was the most visited piece/page at LA MOCA's Digital Gallery, and included contributions from Jared Tarbell of and co-author of several books on advanced Flash programming, and Monty Zukowski, creator of the winning 'decay algorithm' sponsored by Bruce.


Sterling has a habit of coining neologisms to describe things that he believes will be common in the future, especially items which already exist in limited numbers.

  • In the December 2005 issue of Wired magazine, Sterling coined the term buckyjunk. Buckyjunk refers to future, difficult-to-recycle consumer waste made of carbon nanotubes (a.k.a. buckytubes, based on buckyballs or buckminsterfullerene).
  • In his 2005 book Shaping Things[8] he coined the term design fiction which refers to a type of speculative design which focuses on world building.
  • In July 1989, in SF Eye #5, he was the first to use the word "slipstream" to refer to a type of speculative fiction between traditional science fiction and fantasy and mainstream literature.
  • In December 1999 he coined the term "Wexelblat disaster", for a disaster caused when a natural disaster triggers a secondary, and more damaging, failure of human technology.[9]
  • In his book Zeitgeist (2000), he introduced the term major consensus narrative as an explanatory synonym for truth.
  • In August 2004 he suggested a type of technological device (he called it "spime") that, through pervasive RFID and GPS tracking, can track its history of use and interact with the world.[10]
  • In the speech where he offered "spime", he noted that the term "blobject", with which he is sometimes credited, was passed on to him by industrial designer Karim Rashid. The term may originally have been coined by Steven Skov Holt.[11]
  • He discussed and expanded on Sophia Al Maria's neologism "Gulf Futurism" in his column for Wired Magazine "Beyond The Beyond" [12]


Bruce Sterling at Robofest
Sterling at Robofest '94

In childhood, Sterling spent several years in India and has a fondness for Bollywood films.[13] In 2003 he was appointed Professor at the European Graduate School where he is teaching summer intensive courses on media and design.[1] In 2005, he became "visionary in residence" at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He lived in Belgrade with Serbian author and film-maker Jasmina Tešanović[14] for several years, and married her in 2005. In September 2007 he moved to Turin, Italy.[15] He also travels the world extensively giving speeches and attending conferences. Both Sterling and artist and musician Florian-Ayala Fauna are sponsors for V. Vale's RE/Search newsletter.[16][17][18][19][20][21]



Sterling has been interviewed for documentaries like Freedom Downtime, TechnoCalyps and Traceroute.


  1. ^ a b Bruce Sterling faculty page at European Graduate School
  2. ^ Nisi Shawl (2009-02-19). "Books | "The Caryatids": four clones need a home | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  3. ^ "The World According to Bruce Sterling". Impact Lab. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Cool Tools: New Editor, Same Deal". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. ^ "HELLO WORLD | Beyond The Beyond". 2003-10-30. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  6. ^ "Big Picture Business". Archived from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
  7. ^ "DIGITAL GALLERY: Bruce Sterling: Embrace the Decay",
  8. ^ "Shaping Things". MIT Press. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  9. ^ "Viridian Note 00120: Viridian Disasters (Storms in France)". 1999-12-27. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  10. ^ "Viridian Note". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  11. ^ "STANFORD Magazine: July/August 2005 > Thrown a Curve". 2003-07-02. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  12. ^ Bruce SterlingEmail Author (1999-12-07). "Gulf Futurism | Beyond The Beyond". Retrieved 2012-12-09.
  13. ^ "Shapeways interviews Bruce Sterling - Shapeways Blog on 3D Printing News & Innovation". 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
  14. ^ "Life Doesn't Lack for Variety | Beyond the Beyond from". 2005-11-19. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  15. ^ "Putting people first » Bruce Sterling moving to Torino, Italy". 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  16. ^ Sterling, Bruce (September 30, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search newsletter #165". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  17. ^ Sterling, Bruce (October 12, 2017). "Welcome to V. Vale's RE/SearchNewsletter #166". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  18. ^ Sterling, Bruce (October 18, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search Newsletter #167, October 2017 Part 2". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  19. ^ Sterling, Bruce (November 10, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search Newsletter #168". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  20. ^ Sterling, Bruce (November 17, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search Newsletter #169, Part Two". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  21. ^ Sterling, Bruce (December 2, 2017). "WELCOME TO V. VALE’s RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER #170, December 2017". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  22. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  23. ^ "1989 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-12.

External links

A Place So Foreign and Eight More

A Place So Foreign and Eight More is a collection of short stories by Canadian-British writer Cory Doctorow. Six of these stories were released electronically under a Creative Commons license. A paperback edition was issued in New York by publisher Four Walls Eight Windows in 2003 with ISBN 1-56858-286-2. The collection features an introduction by Bruce Sterling, and includes "0wnz0red", which was nominated for the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novelette.

Bicycle Repairman

"Bicycle Repairman" is a postcyberpunk short story by American science fiction writer Bruce Sterling. It deals with the eponymous character, who lives in a functioning anarchist community in the near future and has an encounter with the misguided authorities. As is common in Sterling's stories, it deals with issues of markets, governance and the tensions between the two.

"Bicycle Repairman" was first published in Intersections in 1996. It won a Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 1997. It was reprinted in a 1999 collection of Sterling's work, A Good Old-Fashioned Future, and again in 2007 in Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology.

Bruce Sterling (Love of Life)

Bruce Sterling was a fictional character in the now-cancelled American Soap Opera, Love of Life. He was played by actor Ron Tomme from 1959 to the show's demise in 1980.

Bruce Sterling Jenkins

Bruce Sterling Jenkins (born May 27, 1927) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah.

Bruce Sterling bibliography

The bibliography of American science fiction author Bruce Sterling comprises novels, short stories and non-fiction.

Bruce Woodcock (computer games analyst)

Bruce Sterling Woodcock (born 1970) is an American computer and video games industry analyst, best known for his work on subscription tracking of massively multiplayer online games via his website MMOGCHART.COM.

Burning Chrome

"Burning Chrome" is a short story, written by William Gibson and first published in Omni in July 1982. Gibson first read the story at a science fiction convention in Denver, Colorado in the autumn of 1981, to an audience of four people, among them Bruce Sterling (who Gibson later said "completely got it"). It was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1983 and collected with the rest of Gibson's early short fiction in a 1986 volume of the same name.

Burning Chrome (short story collection)

Burning Chrome (1986) is a collection of short stories written by William Gibson. Most of the stories take place in Gibson's Sprawl, a shared setting for most of his cyberpunk work. Many of the ideas and themes explored in the short stories were later revisited in Gibson's popular Sprawl trilogy.Burning Chrome includes:

"Johnny Mnemonic"

"The Gernsback Continuum"

"Fragments of a Hologram Rose"

"The Belonging Kind," with John Shirley


"Red Star, Winter Orbit," with Bruce Sterling

"New Rose Hotel"

"The Winter Market"

"Dogfight," with Michael Swanwick

"Burning Chrome"

Cheap Truth

Cheap Truth was a free series of one-page, double-sided newsletters (i.e., fanzine) published in the 1980s. It was not-copyrighted and explicitly encouraged "xerox pirates" to circulate the zine for their own monetary gain or otherwise. This enabled it to reach a large and diverse audience. It was the unofficial organ of a loose group of authors. This group called themselves many things, including "The Movement" but was later known as the Cyberpunk movement.

The zine was edited by the American science fiction author Bruce Sterling under the alias Vincent Omniaveritas (as in vincit omnia veritas). There were several contributors such as "Sue Denim" (as in pseu-donym, in this case Lewis Shiner), but the real identities behind some aliases are still not commonly known. The newsletter was critical towards what its editors regarded, at the time, as the "stagnant state of popular science fiction".

Holy Fire (novel)

Holy Fire is a 1996 science fiction novel by American writer Bruce Sterling. It was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award in 1996, and for both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1997.Holy Fire is the story of an old woman who has gained a second youth—in a world in which radical life extension is available through highly intrusive technological means—and who has an ontological transformation as a result.

Charles Stross has recommended it.


Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986) is a cyberpunk short story collection, edited by American writer Bruce Sterling.

Red Star, Winter Orbit

"Red Star, Winter Orbit" is a short story written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling in the 1980s. It was first published in Omni in July 1983, and later collected in Burning Chrome, a 1986 anthology of Gibson's early short fiction, and in Sterling's 1986 cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades. The story is set in an alternate future where the Soviet Union controls most of the Earth's resources, especially oil. As a result of this the United States is no longer a dominant economic power on earth and the Soviets have won the space race.

Science fiction critic Takayuki Tatsumi regards the story as a descriptive account of "the failure of the dream of space exploration", reminiscent of J.G. Ballard's "inner space/outer space" motif. Gibson scholar Tatiani Rapatzikou commented that the motif of the space station was used by the authors as a "symbol of the tension and uneasiness the characters or readers experience every time they deal with the artificiality of their technological world".

Slipstream genre

Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. The term was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, in July 1989. He wrote: "... this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility."


Spime is a neologism for a futuristic object, characteristic to the Internet of Things, that can be tracked through space and time throughout its lifetime. They are essentially virtual master objects that can, at various times, have physical incarnations of themselves. An object can be considered a spime when all of its essential information is stored in the cloud. Bruce Sterling sees spimes as coming through the convergence of six emerging technologies, related to both the manufacturing process for consumer goods, and through identification and location technologies. Depending on context, the term "spime" can refer to both—the archetype, as designed by the developer, or a user-specific instance of it.

Taklamakan (short story)

"Taklamakan" is a short story by American writer Bruce Sterling. The story follows a government contracted spy and his coworker as they enter the Taklamakan Desert to explore and substantiate rumors about a group of Chinese habitats that simulate generation ships in a cave under the Taklamakan Desert. It won the 1999 Hugo Award for Best Novelette as well as the 1999 Foreign Short Story Hayakawa Award.

The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine (1990) is an alternative history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It is widely regarded as a book that helped establish the genre conventions of steampunk.

It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer (actually his Analytical Engine rather than the difference engine).

The novel was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award in 1990, the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1991, and both the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Prix Aurora Award in 1992.

The Gernsback Continuum

"The Gernsback Continuum" is a 1981 science fiction short story by American-Canadian author William Gibson, originally published in the anthology Universe 11 edited by Terry Carr. It was later reprinted in Gibson's collection Burning Chrome, and in Mirrorshades, edited by Bruce Sterling. With some similarity to Gibson's later appraisal of Singapore for Wired magazine in Disneyland with the Death Penalty, as much essay as fiction, it depicts the encounters of an American photographer with the period futuristic architecture of the American 1930s when he is assigned to document it for fictional London publishers Barris-Watford, and the gradual incursion of its cinematic future visions into his world. The "Gernsback" of the title alludes to Hugo Gernsback, the pioneer of early 20th century American pulp magazine science fiction.

William Gibson

William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian speculative fiction writer and essayist widely credited with pioneering the science fiction subgenre known as cyberpunk. Beginning his writing career in the late 1970s, his early works were noir, near-future stories that explored the effects of technology, cybernetics, and computer networks on humans—a "combination of lowlife and high tech"—and helped to create an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. Gibson notably coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story "Burning Chrome" (1982) and later popularized the concept in his acclaimed debut novel Neuromancer (1984). These early works have been credited with "renovating" science fiction literature.

After expanding on Neuromancer with two more novels to complete the dystopic Sprawl trilogy, Gibson collaborated with Bruce Sterling on the alternate history novel The Difference Engine (1990), which became an important work of the science fiction subgenre steampunk. In the 1990s, Gibson composed the Bridge trilogy of novels, which explored the sociological developments of near-future urban environments, postindustrial society, and late capitalism. Following the turn of the century and the events of 9/11, Gibson emerged with a string of increasingly realist novels—Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), and Zero History (2010)—set in a roughly contemporary world. These works saw his name reach mainstream bestseller lists for the first time. His more recent novel, The Peripheral (2014), returned to a more overt engagement with technology and recognizable science fiction concerns.

In 1999, The Guardian described Gibson as "probably the most important novelist of the past two decades," while the Sydney Morning Herald called him the "noir prophet" of cyberpunk. Throughout his career, Gibson has written more than 20 short stories and 10 critically acclaimed novels (one in collaboration), contributed articles to several major publications, and collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers, and musicians. His work has been cited as an influence across a variety of disciplines spanning academia, design, film, literature, music, cyberculture, and technology.

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