Bruce Sterling interviewed by Shapeways

Don't miss Bruce Sterling in full-on grumpy zen master mode, busting out futuristic koans in this interview with Shapeways, the 3D printing people:

Joris Peels: If everyone had replicators would people that were able to speak quicker be happier than those that spoke slower?

Bruce Sterling: Look, "everyone" is never going to have anything. The human race includes infants, the senile, the mentally retarded, the disabled, people in clinics and prisons, the illiterate, the totally broke, dropouts of all descriptions, refuseniks... This is like asking what happens when "everybody has a car." Everybody's not gonna have a car, even in an imaginary world where cars cost less than nothing. If replicators were as cheap as cellphones we wouldn't be any "happier." Are guys who yak really fast on cellphones any happier than the rest of us? Hardly.

Joris Peels: How long will it take for someone to develop the first prank disease?

Bruce Sterling: You mean besides "smallpox blankets?" Maybe massive lethality on entire populations doesn't count as "pranks."

Shapeways interviews Bruce Sterling



  1. I love me some Sterling, but is no one else tired and exhausted from the relentlessly grumpy and cynical grim meathook future? Honestly?

  2. >>> You mean besides “smallpox blankets?”

    Since there’s absolutely no evidence or documentation of smallpox infected blankets ever being given to American Indians, the answer should have been: No, I mean a “non-urban legend” prank disease.

    1. If only Joris had had the foresight to be carrying a Jaccizi stim disguised as a sheep’s bladder, the interview might have turned out more interesting.

      1. Dude, Cecil is always in my fact check list. Did you even read his article?

        Again, absolutely no evidence or documentation of smallpox infected blankets ever being given to American Indians exists–postscripts in a couple of letters between Bouquet and Amherst is not evidence. (Neither is smallpox breaking out nearby–in the mid-1700’s, smallpox was rampant throughout the native population.

        In all the correspondence, both military and personal, we have from that time period (and there’s a goodly amount) this is all we got–two postscripts indicated desire and vague intent. But nothing else, ever, to indicate it actually transpired. (And don’t even try with taking the diary of William Trent out of context).

        May have happened. No proof or account of it happening. Shouldn’t be assumed to have happened.

  3. I can’t even figure out what they meant by the “speak quicker” question. Like, if you can speak quickly you get what you want that much sooner? I don’t know. To me it reads kind of like, “If everyone had oranges, do you think the people with denim pants would be happier?”

    1. Yeah. I also don’t agree with the answer. People who talk loudly into cellphones are more happy. For one thing they aren’t bothered by the loud ass talking on a cellphone.

  4. @dculberson

    Yeah, you got it. The idea being that currently one point of view about things is that the more you have of them the more happy you’ll be, the greater GDP = always good version of life.

    So if we all had cheap replicators who would be the most happy? Well according to our previous theory it would be the person who could get more things, and more quickly once he’d thought of something to get. Hence it would be the person who could speak more quickly to his replicator.

    The converse is that those who could only speak slowly would be unhappier, because they’d always have their things after the quick speakers. Poor, poor Morgan Freeman.

  5. He didn’t sound grumpy to me, just annoyed at the stupid-ass questions. I mean, really, they weren’t very good. I think the interviewer was just trying to show how funny he was.

  6. If you’re going to interview Bruce Sterling, send your best interviewer and make him bring his A-game!

    Geebus, I’ve seen more intelligent interview questions from 80-s era DIY fanzines edited by 13 year olds.

  7. sterling is such a pessimist. read our great writer of genius= walker percy’s ‘love in the ruins’ and see where sterling stole his ideas for distraction’

  8. “Mr. Sterling, if you were a salad dressing, which one would you be?”

    Shapeways needs to stick to the printing.

  9. @Rob – Bruce spoke to my Literature and Globalization class at North Carolina State about 10 years ago. It was maybe 15 students and a professor, 3 of us who knew who he was and had read anything other than the required reading – Globalhead – and he was still a teddy bear. Not nearly as grumpy in person as he is in his writings. Except when you fawn over him like I did.

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