Dear Bruce Sterling

Dear Bruce Sterling,

I like your work. Even though it hardly leaves me satisfied when I close a book you wrote due to what I feel to be unfulfilled promises – “The Caryatids” being the most recent. It is like you are preparing for a sprint, fire all the muscles up and then start a walk. It is like waiting for the new years eve fireworks and discover that only three neighbors bought a handful of sparklers.

It is like you are about to go into some danger-zone and then decide: “Uh, no. Too dangerous. Let’s drink tea instead”. For instance taking this excerpt from WikiPedia:

The Caryatids, a 2009 science fiction novel by Bruce Sterling, tells the tale of the four Mihajlovic “sisters”, clones of the widow of a Balkan warlord now exiled to an orbital space station. From the viewpoint of a “Dispensation” entrepreneur from Los Angeles, the sisters, raised in an environment of ubiquitous computing, may succeed in rescuing the earth from environmental collapse

there is enough stuff to blow my mind if you would have followed up on it. Instead – when the sisters are re-united – instead of finally kicking ass and turn the world around they – kind of like – are having scones in the neighborhood coffee-bar and play with the kids. As if you were tired of writing it and terminated the project before you were completely done. There is not even something hope-giving like: “to be continued.. – Read in part two how the Mihajlovic sisters become a team and kick world class ass”.

A friend of mine read “The Difference Engine” in 1991 and blamed William Gibson for its slow and sometimes even heavy pace. He had never read Gibson before reading that. He had only read your: “The Artificial Kid” and: “Involution Ocean” which have pace and smartness and a certain rawness.

Then he read your: “Islands in the Net” and Gibsons: “Neuromancer” and made a U-turn on his judgement.

Like said: I like your work. I bought most of your novels – limitations mainly based on availability – and read them (you can add something “snappy” here), even if it was a tough job like “Distraction”, “Islands in the Net” or the somewhat more readable “Heavy Weather”. I like your view on technology and how you draw it to a next stage.

I am star-struck when I meet you in public, which happened in Amsterdam on one of the parties of Layar at the beginning of 2010 and at Reboot 11 in Copenhagen during the Arduino workshop when I sat at the opposite of the table. The same Reboot you did the closing speech. I also felt inhibited and conflicted because I could not do the fanboy: “Oh my god! Bruce Sterling. O my god! I admire your work so much” nor have a conversation with you, when I could, as you chose at that moment to be “snappy” making some “clever” remark about my badge which made me withdraw in nerd-safety-places that do not include social conversation.

This open letter is partially about my disappointment. And it is cowardice as I could have also said it in your face. And it is vanity, showing that I am smart too and that I can also use pretty words from the English language. For – to get that out of the way – I am dissapointed and vain and a coward in some ways.

I would like you to be a different person than you display in your public appearances. I like you to be less vain and more open. I like you to be smarter and more clever in your public appearances and less – seemingly – full of yourself. The seemingly fullness of yourself and the shallow remarks is a pose that does not become you, me or anyone.

I was thinking about writing this open letter over a year ago, with a similar tone of voice, after your closing speech at Reboot11 and the intro speech at Layer in 2010: being really happy with yourself and saying close to nothing with a lot of words like is done in this Infant Sorrow song.

I tried and follow your stream of stuff on Wired a while ago, but your remarks and the style you choose turn me off. An example here, uding the part that triggered me to finally write this open letter to you.

From: “Prototypes for discoverable services in public space: Urbanode“:

The user taps on an ‘open’ spotlight and is presented with a control interface with a color wheel, directional controls, sliders for focus and brightness, and light pattern icons. There might also be a timer counting down a short interval until the light reverts to ‘open’ and must be re-acquired. (((Now imagine that, since it’s a dance club, all the users in this scenario are also totally wasted on Dutch sensemilla!)))

(Your “funny” remark has been put in bold by me.) Yes: we all smoke pot when we go out to dance in Amsterdam – like you go down on your knees and pray every night to some sort of god; before you thank the Stars and Stripes for illuminating your life and your army defending the glory and safeties of the Americas, as that is one of the images the US projects to the world via some of the movies produced in Hollywood and via the news shows on Fox News Network.

I assume you are not as superficial as you show in this kind of remarks – and much smarter.

* Now that I quote you anyway: what is up with that “I put my remarks in some ((( * type of way”? It makes your “Beyond the beyond” writing look awkward. It is visual fluff. It is like the garbage not put outside yet and waiting next to the front door to be taken out by someone. Use Italics to quote, or make the quote “jump in” a bit and keep your own text clean of ((( * [[ { } — = ± or any other character your keyboard and OS provides. It looks stupid.

(((Unless your editor does not allow for styles and you basically have to manual-code the HTML to make that work. In that case: request your editor for some decent tools for input – for fucks sake.)))

I have almost said everything I have on my mind. (Add another “snappy” remark here.)

I appreciate your mentioning of Vurb yesterday and of Roomware about two years ago. I just do not like your style.

Yours,

Garbage Only

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One comment

  1. *Oh, get a grip, for God’s sake! Like cyberpunks can’t be sarcastic in public? Sez who? Who do you think runs that blog, a Gummi Bear? I get it about your tender hacker feelings, but what the hell were you doing at REBOOT?! Reboot is a freak scene. You coulda stayed safe at home in a dry box of styrofoam noodles!

    *And then you say you’re looking for “danger zones” — and yet you live in freakin’ Amsterdam! What gives with that? Knock off off with grooving in the Melkweg, and come down here and wire up some Belgrade river party-barges. There are some nice, doomy, mean-tempered, dystopian punk chicks down here that are just dyin’ to meet you.

    *Also, knock it off with reading my novels until you figure out that I’m an author instead of a programmer. I get to tell my punctuation to do whatever I want.

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