Birthplace: Brownsville, TX
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Schismatrix
One of the principal architects of the cyberpunk genre, Bruce Sterling is the editor of Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, and the co-author (with William Gibson) of The Difference Engine (1990), a steam-punk novel. Sterling is also the author of such varied but technologically informed works as Schismatrix (1985), Islands in the Net (1988), The Hacker Crackdown (1992), and Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years (2002). A self-proclaimed cyberguru and technopundit, Sterling is an outspoken commentator on the interaction of culture and technology, contributing insights and opinions to a variety of print and online venues, including Wired, The New York Times, Mondo 2000, bOING bOING, Interzone, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In 2000 he formed Viridian Design to publicize and encourage the need for more environmentally responsible consumerism and for elegant, technologically based solutions to environmental problems. Sterling is an active board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a chief developer of the Dead Media Project.
Sterling spent the bulk of his childhood in Galveston, Texas. At age 15 he moved with his family to India, where his father was to work on a fertilizer plant project. The younger Sterling used the opportunity to travel extensively before returning to Texas to pursue a journalism degree. Although Sterling had begun writing at age 12, it wasn't until his days at the University of Texas, where he participated in the Turkey City Writer's Workshop, that he applied himself more earnestly to writing science fiction. The effort paid off -- in 1976 (also the year he graduated) he published his first science fiction story, "Man-Made Self". A year later his first novel, Involution Ocean, was published by Harlan Ellison as part of the Discovery Series. He continued with a series of tales set in the "Shaper-Mechanist universe", culminating in the novel length Schismatrix (1985), which pitted bio-engineers against the cyberscientist Mechanists with their computers and prosthetic implants. But Schismatrix was only part of a larger genre, cyberpunk, that Sterling was co-creating with such authors as Rudy Rucker, William Gibson, and John Shirley. In 1986 he edited and helped pull together what many consider one of the core works of the genre, Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology.
Although cyberpunk was pronounced "dead" by many in 1988 (as pop culture jumped on its band wagon, rendering the concept commercialized and passť), Sterling remained entranced by the future of technology and its possible/probable impacts upon humanity. A frequent public speaker on these themes (assuming a role once filled by Marshall McLuhan), Sterling was also a driving force behind the formation of the Dead Media Project, a collective project for the study of obsolescent forms of media, which encourages interested parties to contribute and use related information without charge or payment. Sterling defines media as "a device that transfers a message between human beings" and notes that "people have used all kinds of things to record data and carry signals: fire, string, clouds, flowers, light, electricity, ink, wax, vinyl, tape, wire, cloth..." Recent examples of "dead media" include various obsolete computer and software types, 8-track tapes, and Morton Heilig's early virtual reality, but the term encompasses older inventions like the teleharmonium and the stereopticon, as well as masks, jewelry and other ceremonial objects. While Sterling insists that paper "will not vanish because it is a good storage medium; it doesn't require batteries", he predicts that the Web as we know it will inevitably morph into something radically unexpected.
Far from being content to catalogue (and fantasize) about technological innovations, Sterling has been compelled by his concerns about global warming, burgeoning mountains of garbage, and other nasty accretions and secretions of modern society to actively encourage new technological innovations -- especially those that deal constructively with these issues. His Viridian Green movement is one venue Sterling uses to raise consciousness about planned and unplanned obsolescence and the environmental perils of a consumerist lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Sterling's ongoing cross-pollination with the cutting edge of computer culture has led to his dabbling in and contributing to such innovations as online zines (his face was splashed across the first issue of Wired, 3/93), blogs, and even e-texts. Significantly, Sterling was one of the first print authors to embrace the concept of releasing his work in free electronic format. His 1992 book The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier, which dealt with the U.S. Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games (in Austin, Texas), was released on the Internet after its print publication, and Sterling further distributed it on disk during speaking engagements.
Sterling currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he is exploring the 21st century phenomenon of communicating intra-household by email. He occasionally teaches at the European Graduate School of Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he is a professor of Internet studies and science fiction. He has been twice awarded the Hugo Award (for Holy Fire in 1997 and Distraction in 1999). Among other distinctions, he has received the Arthur C. Clarke Award and John W. Campbell Award.
Wife: Jasmina Tesanovic (m. 2005)
University: BA Journalism, University of Texas at Austin
Electronic Frontier Foundation
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Freedom Downtime (22-Sep-2001) · Himself
Author of books:
Involution Ocean (1977)
The Artificial Kid (1980)
Islands in the Net (1988)
The Difference Engine (1990, with William Gibson)
The Hacker Crackdown (1992)
Heavy Weather (1994)
Holy Fire (1996)
The Zenith Angle (2004)
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