Bruce Sterling

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Michael Bruce Sterling (14 April 1954, Brownsville, Texas) is a science fiction writer, net critic, and internationally recognized cyberspace theorist.

Bruce Sterling was born in Texas. However, as a child he also spent a lot of time in India, which partly explains why Sterling is still fond of Bollywood movies. Sterling graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1976. A year later, his first book, Involution Ocean, was published. However, he first started becoming well known by organizing an annual Christmas party in Austin where he would present digital art. In the 1980s, 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 The Artificial Kid (1980), Schismatrix (1985), Islands in the Net (1988), and Heavy Weather (1994).

In 2003, Sterling became a professor of internet studies and science fiction at The European Graduate School / EGS where he teaches intensive Summer seminars. In 2005, he became “visionary in residence” at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Sterling lived for several years in Belgrade with Jasmina Tesanovic, his second wife, a Serbian author and filmmaker. In September 2007, he moved to Italy where he found a peaceful place to live in Turin. Sterling has travelled the world giving many speeches and collecting awards. His list of accolades include the Campbell Award in 1989 for his novel Islands in the Net; the Hugo Award in 1997 and 1999 for his novelettes Bicycle Repairman and Taklamakan, respectively; the Hayakawa Award in 1999 also for Taklamakan; and the Clarke Award in 2000 for his novel Distraction.

Along with William Gibson, another one of the major figures of cyberpunk, Sterling co-authored The Difference Engine (1990), a novel which is part of the steampunk sub-genre. The novel forms an alternate—or speculative—history set in 1855 London, which is anachronistically advanced. Sterling is the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Sterling published Black Swan in 2010, which has received critical acclaim.

Bruce Sterling also founded the Viridian Design Movement, an environmental aesthetic movement founded on the ideas of global citizenship, environmental design, and techno-progressiveness. Sterling’s numerous book-length essays both question and promote how the future is shaping our concepts of self, time, and space. In Shaping Things (2005), he offers a history of shaped objects, moving from the most rudimentary hand-made artifacts through to the complex machinery which defines our current existence. In Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years (2002), Sterling examines how today’s technologies will affect our future lives.

Written in a wry, intelligent style, Sterling’s books make bold claims about the future, examining scientists’ use of medicine to extend our lives while at the same time examining our seemingly bottomless thirst for oil. Sterling’s most acclaimed book, The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Order on the Electronic Frontier (1993) is a deep history of the birth of cyberspace, following the periphery of the development of technology from the first telephone hackers to the government’s attack on several prominent hackers in 1990.

Sterling has blogged extensively in Beyond the Beyond published by Wired Magazine and has written many articles. (2010)


(in English unless noted otherwise)


  • Involution Ocean, intro. Harlan Ellison, New York: Jove, 1977, OL. A science fiction version of Moby Dick, set in a deep crater filled with dust instead of water, featuring an impossible romance between the protagonist and an alien woman. The book was published as part of a series of books by new authors discovered by Harlan Ellison and was marketed as such.
    • La Baleine des sables, trans. Bruno Martin, Paris: Denoël, 1979, 224 pp. (French)
    • Oceano, trans. Stefano Carducci and Ugo Malaguti, Perseo, 1991, 218 pp. (Italian)
    • Oceán prachu, trans. Alexandr Křížek, note Ondřej Müller, Prague: Winston Smith, 1993; repr., Pilsen: Laser, 2008. (Czech)
    • Der Staubozean, trans. Bernd Holzrichter, Munich: Heyne, 1996. (German)
  • The Artificial Kid, Harper & Row, 1980, OL. A novel about a young street fighter who continuously films himself using remote controlled cameras.
  • Schismatrix, Arbor House, 1985, OL. The 23rd century solar system is divided among two human factions: the "Shapers" who are employing genetics and psychology, and the "Mechanists" who use computers and body prosthetics. The novel is narrated from the viewpoint of Abelard Lindsay, a brilliant diplomat who makes history many times throughout the story.
  • Islands in the Net, Arbor House, 1988, OL. A view of an early twenty first century world apparently peaceful with delocalised, networking corporations. The protagonist, swept up in events beyond her control, finds herself in the places off the net, from a datahaven in Grenada, to a Singapore under terrorist attack, and the poorest and most disaster-struck part of Africa.
  • with William Gibson, The Difference Engine, Bantam Spectra, 1990, OL. A steampunk alternate history novel set in a Victorian Great Britain in the throes of a steam-driven computer revolution.
    • Maszyna różnicowa, trans. Piotr W. Cholewa, Mag, 1997. (Polish)
    • La macchina della realtà, Mondadori, 1999. (Italian)
    • Mašina zázraků, Brno: Návrat, 1999, 482 pp. (Czech)
    • A gépezet, trans. Viktor Juhász, Budapest: Nagual, 2005. (Hungarian)
    • 差分机, 2013. (Chinese)
    • A Máquina Diferencial, Aleph, 2015. (Portuguese)
  • Heavy Weather, Spectra, 1994, OL. Follows high-tech storm chasers in the American midwest where greenhouse warming has made tornadoes far more energetic than the present day.
    • Drsné počasí, trans. Ondřej Müller, Chomutov: Milenium, 1998. (Czech)
  • Holy Fire, Spectra, 1996, OL. Set in a world of steadily increasing longevity (gerontocracy), a newly rejuvenated American woman drifts through the marginalised subculture of European young artists while dealing with the implications of posthumanism.
    • Święty płomień, 1997. (Polish)
  • Distraction, Bantam Spectra, 1998. A master political strategist and a genius genetic researcher find love as they fight an insane Louisiana governor for control of a high-tech scientific facility in a post-collapse United States.
  • Zeitgeist, Spectra, 2000. A girl group à la the Spice Girls tours the Middle East under the direction of trickster Leggy Starlitz. Explores a world in which postmodernism and deconstructionism were literally true in their postulation of reality as a malleable major consensus narrative.
  • The Zenith Angle, Del Ray, 2004. A techno-thriller about a cyber-security expert who goes to work for the U.S. government fighting terrorism after 9/11.
  • The Caryatids, Del Ray, 2009. Three women, clones of the widow of a Balkan war criminal living on a space station, may be able to rescue the Earth from environmental collapse in 2060.[12]
  • Love Is Strange: A Paranormal Romance, 40K, 2012.
  • Pirate Utopia, intro. Warren Ellis, Tachyon, 2016. Novella. A Dieselpunk alternative history set in the Italian Regency of Carnaro.

Short story collections[edit]

  • editor, Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology, 1986, OL. Defining cyberpunk short story collection.
    • Zrcadlovky: kyberpunková antologie, trans. Robert Tschorn, et al., Pilsen: Laser, 2000, 291 pp; repr., 2009. (Czech)
  • Crystal Express, Arkham House, 1989, OL. A collection of short stories, including several set in the Shaper/Mechanist universe.
  • Globalhead, Ziesing, 1992.
  • Schismatrix Plus, Ace Books, 1996. Complete Shapers-Mechanists Universe.
    • Schismatrix plus, trans. Radim Rouče, Petr Kotrle, and Josef Dušek, Pilsen: Laser, 2006. (Czech)
  • A Good Old-Fashioned Future, Spectra, 1999.
  • Visionary in Residence, Running Press, 2006, OL.
  • Ascendencies: The Best of Bruce Sterling, 2007.
    • Vidím to jinak, trans. Pavel Bakič, et al., Pilsen: Laser, 2008, 559 pp. (Czech)
  • Gothic High-Tech, Subterranean Press, 2012, 232 pp, OL.


  • The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier, New York: Bantam Books, Nov 1992, 258 pp, OL; electronic ed., Jan 1994. About the panic of law enforcers in the late 1980s about 'hackers' and the raid on Steve Jackson Games as part of Operation Sun Devil.
    • Giro di vite contro gli Hacker: legge e disordine sulla frontiera elettronica, trans. Mirko Tavosanis, Milan: Shake, 1993, 253 pp. [1] (Italian)
    • Hakkā o oe! [ハッカーを追え!], trans. Kiyoshi Imaoka, Tokyo: ASCII [アスキー], Nov 1993, 446 pp; repr., Tokyo: Tokyo: ASCII [アスキー], 2001. (Japanese)
    • La caza de hackers: ley y desorden en la frontera electrónica, trans. El Equipo de Traductores de Kriptópolis, 1999. (Spanish)
    • Zátah na hackery, trans. Václav Bárta, 2004, 65 pp. (Czech)
    • La caza de hackers: ley y desorden en la frontera electrónica, trans. Ramón G. Delagua, Granada: AJEC, 2008, 250 pp. (Spanish)
  • Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years, Random House, 2002, OL. A popular science approach on futurology, reflecting technology, politics and culture of the next 50 years.
    • Budushcheye uzhe nachalos. Chto zhdot kazhdogo iz nas v XXI veke [Будущее уже началось. Что ждёт каждого из нас в XXI веке?], Moscow: У-Фактория, 2005. (Russian)
  • Shaping Things, MIT Press, 2005, 149 pp. A "book about created objects", i.e. a lengthy essay about design, things and how we will move from the age of products and gizmos to the age of spimes (a Sterling neologism). The book covers issues like "intelligent things" (spiked with RFID-tags), sustainability and "fabbing".
    • Vytváření věcí, trans. Ivan Adamovič, Prague: Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová, 2019. (Czech)

Articles (selection)[edit]