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, which helped to define the cyberpunk genre.[1] Sterling's first ever science fiction story, Man-Made Self, was sold in 1976.[2] He first became famous by hosting an annual Christmas event to present digital art.[1] He spent many years after this creating many science fiction novels such as Schismatrix (1985), Islands In The Net (1988), and Heavy Weather (1994). In 1992, he published his first nonfiction novel, The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier. [3]

Bruce Sterling
Born (1954-04-14) April 14, 1954 (age 66)
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



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.[citation needed] In addition, he is one of the subgenre's chief ideological promulgators. This has earned him the nickname "Chairman Bruce".[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

Since October 2003[7] Sterling has blogged at "Beyond the Beyond", which is hosted by Wired along with contributions to several other print and online platforms like the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.[2]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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 coined multiple 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,[10] 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.[11]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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.[13]
  • He discussed and expanded on Sophia Al Maria's neologism "Gulf Futurism" in his column for Wired magazine, "Beyond The Beyond" [14]


Sterling at Robofest '94

In the beginning of his childhood he lived in Galveston, Texas until his family moved to India.[2] Sterling spent several years in India and has a fondness for Bollywood films.[15] In 1976, he graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism.[1] 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[16] for several years, and married her in 2005. In September 2007 he moved to Turin, Italy.[17] 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.[18][19][20][21][22][23]



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



  1. ^ a b c d "Bruce Sterling - The European Graduate School". Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  2. ^ a b c "Bruce Sterling". Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  3. ^ "Bruce Sterling |". Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  4. ^ Nisi Shawl (2009-02-19). "Books | "The Caryatids": four clones need a home | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. ^ "The World According to Bruce Sterling". Impact Lab. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Cool Tools: New Editor, Same Deal". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  7. ^ "HELLO WORLD | Beyond The Beyond". 2003-10-30. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  8. ^ "Big Picture Business". Archived from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
  9. ^ "DIGITAL GALLERY: Bruce Sterling: Embrace the Decay",
  10. ^ "Shaping Things". MIT Press. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  11. ^ "Viridian Note 00120: Viridian Disasters (Storms in France)". 1999-12-27. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  12. ^ "Viridian Note". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  13. ^ "STANFORD Magazine: July/August 2005 > Thrown a Curve". 2003-07-02. Archived from the original on 2009-03-13. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  14. ^ Bruce SterlingEmail Author (1999-12-07). "Gulf Futurism | Beyond The Beyond". Retrieved 2012-12-09.
  15. ^ "Shapeways interviews Bruce Sterling - Shapeways Blog on 3D Printing News & Innovation". 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
  16. ^ "Life Doesn't Lack for Variety | Beyond the Beyond from". 2005-11-19. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  17. ^ "Putting people first » Bruce Sterling moving to Torino, Italy". 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  18. ^ Sterling, Bruce (September 30, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search newsletter #165". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  19. ^ Sterling, Bruce (October 12, 2017). "Welcome to V. Vale's RE/SearchNewsletter #166". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  20. ^ Sterling, Bruce (October 18, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search Newsletter #167, October 2017 Part 2". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  21. ^ Sterling, Bruce (November 10, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search Newsletter #168". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  22. ^ Sterling, Bruce (November 17, 2017). "V. Vale's RE/Search Newsletter #169, Part Two". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  23. ^ Sterling, Bruce (December 2, 2017). "WELCOME TO V. VALE’s RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER #170, December 2017". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  24. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  25. ^ "1989 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-12.

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