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Bruce Sterling Takes Manhattan
Emily Gertz, 12 May 04

bruces_040511_nyc.jpg Bruce Sterling -- WorldChanging Ally #1, Viridian Pope-Emperor, and author-on-tour with his new novel The Zenith Angle,gave a great rant and reading last night at Barnes & Noble Greenwich Village, NYC.

I now attempt to create, in the manner of Cory Doctorow, a freestyle transcription of some of his performance:

OK, who's here because of my blog? Who's here because they saw it on Viridian? Yeah! Viridian could mop the floor with my blog!

Information security: disaster. Awful. Cybercops crying on my shoulder. NSA guys with no last names calling me from their secret offices telling me how bad it is. Tomorrow you could wake up and find a black smoking pit where your email, bank accounts, and identity used to be. It's true!!

After 9/11, someone wanted to get all these guys together, coordinate efforts, get everyone in the same circle of chairs, sing Kumbaya and fix this stuff. Who was that?


Richard Clarke, that's who! And look what happened to him!

It's a mess.

The Bushies don't care, they don't understand it, plus they hate science. Some undersecretariat of an undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security is stuck with this now, with no means to do anything about it, sitting there waiting to get stuck with the blame when the next big disaster happens.

The moment to solve some of these great gaping Microsoft patched patches giant worm-ridden virus-clogged systems hacked by German teenagers living in basements with their widowed mothers--well, it's pretty much gone.

SPAM. Email is nearly over because of this stuff. Imagine sending yourself an email back in time 8 or 10 years, to your shiny new-to-email self, telling yourself that in 10 years you'd be getting daily deluges of hardcore porn, pharmaceutical come-ons, thousands of viruses spoofing your own email account, every day.

You'd have cried. You'd have said, we have to fix this!

It's a disaster!

So, I wrote this book. It's a techno-thriller.

It's got the best fight scene I ever wrote! Wanna hear that, or this short story that you might never otherwise read because it's going to be published in a really small market?

The short story? Great...

OK, questions?

[Worldchanging note: Highly abbreviated transcription of Q&A follows.]

What movies are you looking forward to?

Well, I'm into this Day After Tomorrow climate change disaster movie. Independence Day-style explosions, and a tidal wave destroys New York. That's always good! Otherwise, I'm not really a cinema person. I like foreign films--I like Bollywood. I was a child of the oil diaspora, lived in India for a while. If you read my blog, you know I love these Bollywood movies.

Crazy spectacle--and you don't need to sit there and watch, just leave it on as wallpaper and sit down to read the subtitles when something interesting is happening. Pink is the navy of India!

Find Qayamat, it's Hindu cyberpunk. A big hit at my writer's workshop.

Is cyberpunk dead?


Are you completely off the grid?

I was never off the grid! I don't believe in being off the grid. I actually put some kilowatts back into the grid every day. My photovoltaics, they're a rich white man's attempt at photovoltaics. It's a futile gesture. But I have to do it. It's an important gesture to make.

It's probably someone from Viridian who asked that.

Who here reads Worldchanging? Read Worldchanging! Those guys are smart. They're following these things.

(*Blush* -- Thanks, Bruce!)

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Sweet -- nice plug from the godfather!

Posted by: Richard Kahn on 12 May 04

Yes: Bruce mentioned WC a few times. Much appreciated!

Any new visitors out there from New York City? Perhaps we shall have critical mass for a local gathering at some point.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 12 May 04

Aw, man! You got a choice for your reading? Now I have to find out what it's called, and where in hell it'll be published! The fight scene was damn good, 'though, over in Cambridge; he certainly does talk a good story.

Posted by: Duncan Stewart on 12 May 04

If I remember correctly, the story will be published in an upcoming new incarnation of Amazing Magazine, out of Seattle. Hopefully Bruce will blog it.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 13 May 04

Hey, how crowded was it? I'm wondering how early I should get there in Arlington tomorrow.

Posted by: Jonathan Blocksom on 13 May 04

I went to the NYC reading, and dutifully came to this site, and now have it bookmarked. It was a great reading, and this seems like a really cool site, but I didn't expect anything less with the Bruce Sterling Stamp of Approval [tm].

There were only about 40 people there, which I thought was pretty shocking, but maybe I just have an outsized idea of how big an icon Bruce Sterling is. He definitely wins the award for Author I'd Most Want to Have a Beer With.

Posted by: geoff on 14 May 04



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