Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Man Who Knows Too Much

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Photograph by Adam Voorhes
Bruce Sterling has an unnervingly good track record of predicting the future. And what he sees just keeps getting darker and darker.
In another life Bruce Sterling would have made a tremendous fire-and-brimstone preacher. Since he began publishing in the seventies, the Brownsville-born author has been warning us to be careful about rushing headlong into the future. His novels presaged, among other things, wearable computers, the growing power of global capital, and terrorists using mass media to broadcast executions. The twenty-first century we’re living in looks much like the one he imagined in his twentieth-century fiction.
Sterling is best known as a godfather of cyberpunk, the science fiction subgenre that shifted readers’ attention from distant futures and far-flung galaxies to near-future dystopias dominated by, as one description put it, “high tech and low life.” Sterling (along with the better-known William Gibson) not only predicted much of what we call the Internet but actively shaped our expectations of it. Further collapsing the already small distance between his writing and ...