"Bicycle Repairman" by Bruce Sterling (1996: Hugo Award Winner)
(ENG 230 Student response deadline 4/7/8)
Fantastic Fiction bibliography
Wikipedia: Bruce Sterling
The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier by Bruce Sterling This is an important non-fiction book that maps out part of the history of the subversive side of cyberculture and the paranoid response of the society of control. It also gives a history of the founding of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (see below). I just listened to the entire book as a series of audio podcasts by Cory Doctorow (who we will be reading next week)-- link to audio podcast of Hacker Crackdown.
For a good contemporary cultural counterpoint that extends the call-to-resistance against the increasingly complex corporate colonization of everyday life by the society of control check out the Critical Art Ensemble
Mirroshades: Postmodern Archive Well conference inspired by the cyberpunk collection edited by Sterling:
Bruce Sterling is helping dream the future into existence (SciFi.com: 2006)
Cybergreen: Bruce Sterling on media, design, fiction, and the future (Reason: 2004)
Beyond the Beyond: Bruce Sterling's Weblog
Catscan Columns by Bruce Sterling These were published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation one of the leading civil rights defending free access and speech in the digital world. Wikipedia history of the EFF
Various Speeches and Videos by Sterling available on Youtube
Strange Horizon review of Ascendencies (2008: Retrospective collection of his best short fiction)
Bruce Sterling Online Index (Includes science columns, fiction, wired articles, speeches, videos and various projects available online)
``Free as Air, Free As Water, Free As Knowledge'' (Sterling's 1992 speech to the Library Information Technology Association in San Francisco)
A last thought from Bruce Sterling delivered in 1991 at the Computer Developers Conference in San Jose, CA (The Wonderful Power of Storytelling)
I don't think you can last by meeting the contemporary public taste, the taste from the last quarterly report. I don't think you can last by following demographics and carefully meeting expectations. I don't know many works of art that last that are condescending. I don't know many works of art that last that are deliberately stupid. You may be a geek, you may have geek written all over you; you should aim to be one geek they'll never forget. Don't aim to be civilized. Don't hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them; they put you here. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don't do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. Have the artistic *courage* to recognize your own significance in culture!
Okay. Those of you into SF may recognize the classic rhetoric of cyberpunk here. Alienated punks, picking up computers, menacing society.... That's the cliched press story, but they miss the best half. Punk into cyber is interesting, but cyber into punk is way dread. I'm into technical people who attack pop culture. I'm into techies gone dingo, techies gone rogue -- not street punks picking up any glittery junk that happens to be within their reach -- but disciplined people, intelligent people, people with some technical skills and some rational thought, who can break out of the arid prison that this society sets for its engineers. People who are, and I quote, "dismayed by nearly every aspect of the world situation and aware on some nightmare level that the solutions to our problems will not come from the breed of dimwitted ad-men that we know as politicians." ...
That still smells like hope to me....
You don't get there by acculturating. Don't become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don't read Shakespeare. Read Webster's revenge plays. Don't read
Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he's off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. If you want to read about myth don't read Joseph Campbell, read about convulsive religion, read about voodoo and the Millerites and the Munster Anabaptists. There are hundreds of years of extremities, there are vast legacies of mutants. There have always been geeks. There will always be geeks. Become the apotheosis of geek. Learn who your spiritual ancestors were. You didn't come here from nowhere. There are reasons why you're here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable or uncomfortable or dangerous.