Bruce Sterling is in particularly fine form in this Slashdot interview:
I get a bit of pessimism from almost all near future sci-fi, but I'm wondering if you feel more pessimistic about where humanity is, and is headed, now.. or back when you started writing?
Bruce: Y'know, some people use that word "pessimism" about cyberpunk writing, but none of us cyberpunks ever did. I mean, the people who consider us "pessimistic" are basically not clued-in at all, by our standards. It's like meeting Christian fundies, who are all like, "So, how does it feel to be doomed to perdition? Must be mighty dark there, outside our Church, huh?"
Frankly, I'm kind of a melancholic, like writers generally are, and I've got a sarcastic streak. But to be a "pessimist," you've got to be all personally crabby about not getting your own way about something. I don't have that problem.When I was all "before" as a writer, I was a college student writing his first novel in Austin, Texas. Today I'm a 60-year-old guy hanging out in Belgrade, Serbia. I can't be bothered to figure out if that's supposed to be "pessimistic."
Well, look at it this way. The year 2014 is the centenary of World War One. When you hang out in Europe like I do, you stumble over the rubble of World War One, quite a lot. Humanity was in a truly dreadful place, one hundred years ago. The world situation of humanity was truly bitter and hateful and and deadly, and, well, here we are anyway. That's the big picture.
There are a lot of times and places where "humanity" is headed in no place in particular. Those scenes interest me. Like, little European cultures with weird minority languages, who are just hanging around in obscure mountain valleys, making clay pots and singing, and knifing each other on Tuesdays. You might think that a chrome-and-matte-black science fiction writer would lack a cordial interest in penny-ante cultural scenes like that, but they have their merits. It's not like we all line up and dash like mad for some end-goal called "The Future." There's no victory-condition for being human. The future is just a kind of history that hasn't happened yet.