*Frank Belknap Long was a junior member of the Lovecraft Circle, and I enjoy the raw flummery of all this science-fictional atemporality riffing. It’s like a bubbling stew of Lovecraftian suspension-of-disbelief devices. “Einstein and John Dee are strange bedfellows.”
*It’s especially good when a victim of cosmic horror is “scrawling on paper” and somehow ‘screams’ “ — ahhhhh — .” …
*Wearing the art critic hat. First posted in my Wired blog “Beyond the Beyond.”
An Essay on the New Aesthetic
by Bruce Sterling 04.02.12
I witnessed the New Aesthetic panel at South by Southwest 2012. It was a significant event and a good thing to see.
If you know nothing of the “New Aesthetic,” or if you have no idea what “SXSW” is, you should repair your ignorance right away. Go peruse this:
Now, I know full well that many people never returned from that link I placed up there. There was plenty going on over there to beguile them quite a while. I’m glad that they’re gone, because I intended, all along, to write a long, much-pondered essay for the rest of you. …
Ibiza and Formentera: Lizards and Islands
by Antonia Maria Cicer
Balafia Postals, 2020
a review by Bruce Sterling
This is a nonfiction book by an Ibiza-born herpetologist, and it’s meant to acquaint foreigners with the island’s local lizards.
Ibiza abounds with psychedelic lizards, bright and colorful lizard-memes which adorn sun-hats, t-shirts, coffee cups, rubber sandals, everything a tourist can buy. However, these wriggly graphic icons have little to do with the scurrying, seething, breeding populations of “Podarcis pityusensis.”
If you step away from the urban disco lights, avoiding the clustered yachts, truck traffic, the many streets and pavements of Ibiza, those little creatures soon become ubiquitous. They’re thriving in the pine woods, in the scrubby maquis, in the hills and the beaches, cliffs and arroyos, sand dunes and heaps of seaweed — most every niche on most every island in the archipelago. …
First published in “Beyond #1,” Sun Architecture, 2009.
As I was explaining to you last time, I named the boy ‘Vitruvius.’ I was younger then, and maybe a little too proud of my architecture degree. It was one of the last, full, cum-laude degrees from a major European university.
After I graduated, the Education Bubble burst. Universities were noble institutions nine hundred years old, but their business model had failed. Their value chain had been de-linked. Their unique value proposition was declined by the consumer. Globalization had routed around the Academy.
Maybe you can remember how people used to talk back then. We were impotent in our long emergency, but we were wonderfully glib. …
Farewell to Beyond the Beyond
by Bruce Sterling
So, the blog is formally ending this month, May MMXX.
My weblog is a collateral victim of Covid19, which has become a great worldwide excuse to stop whatever you were doing.
You see, this is a WIRED blog — in fact, it is the first ever WIRED blog — and WIRED and other Conde’ Nast publications are facing a planetary crisis. Basically, they’ve got no revenue stream, since the business model for glossy mags is advertisements for events and consumer goods.
If there are no big events due to pandemic, and nobody’s shopping much, either, then it’s mighty hard to keep a magazine empire afloat in midair. Instead, you’ve gotta fire staffers, shut down software, hunt new business models, re-organize and remove loose ends. There is probably no looser-end in the entire WIRED domain than this weblog. …
This is one of the “Bruno Argento” series of stories, which appeared in Italian in the recent Connettivisti fantascienza anthology, “La Prima Frontiera.” As you can see, it’s about a massive epidemic and a quarantine. I wrote it back in February 2019. This is its first English-language publication.
by Bruce Sterling
Since you are the heir, you must hear the story of the lamp directly from my own lips. Never mind the gossip of the people. They never liked this lamp much. They only let me work with it because I worked for their sake.
So, my boy, once I was young like you, and this lamp was new and brilliant, and it was a lamp built to last, too. You can read books with this lamp when it’s dark as pitch outside. I read books in my bed at night because I’m a sick old man. If you don’t boast to anyone, you’ll get away with that. …
The Share Festival Artmaker Bag Number Four
by Bruce Sterling
With our fourth consecutive Share Festival Artmaker Bag, we can boast of establishing our own tool tradition, and even venture toward the avant-garde.
Our purpose with this portable tool-set remains simple. We want to encourage creative work in technology art. Share Festival is a festival of interactive art, kinetic art, net.art, installations, device art and new-media interventions. Our city of Torino is also a center of industrial production. So the Share Festival Artmaker Bag is our Festival’s gift to inspire, encourage and, also, equip our guests and artists.
The Share Festival Artmaker Bag is never sold commercially, because it is our festival’s gesture of moral and practical support to creative figures we admire. …
by Bruce Sterling
Duchess Margaret Cavendish (1623–1673), from her high social position, dabbled in fiction, poetry, drama and philosophical writing. Learned societies and science groups existed and caught her vivid imagination, but the rigor of the scientific method was not well understood in her lifetime, least of all by herself.
So I just read an extensive work of nonfiction by the Duchess titled “Grounds of Natural Philosophy,” published in 1668. I was under the impression that this was a learned work to popularize the work of scientists, but no; it’s much more ambitious than that. …
First published in Nature magazine, November 1999.
AD 2380: After a painstaking ten-year search, from the Tibetan highlands to the Brazilian rainforests, it’s official — there are no more human beings.
“I suppose I have to consider this a personal setback,” said anthropologist Dr Marcia Raymo, of the Institute for Retrograde Study in Berlin. “Of course we still have human tissue in the lab, and we could clone as many specimens of Homo sapiens as we like. But that species was always known primarily for its unique cultural activity.”
“I can’t understand what the fuss is about,” declared Rita “Cuddles” Srinivasan, actress, sex symbol and computer peripheral. “Artificial Intelligences love to embody themselves in human forms like mine, to wallow in sex and eating. I’m good for oodles of human stuff, scratching, sleeping, sneezing, you can name it. As long as AIs honour their origins, you’ll see plenty of disembodied intelligences slumming around in human forms. …
The Nine Towers of Fillindo the Faithful
By Bruce Sterling
Why have I translated these nine obscure poems by a 17th-century Savoyard courtier?
Well, the author happens to be my landlord. I worked on these poems while in residence in the attic of one of his Turinese villas — a historic palace called the “Vineyard of the Royal Madame.” The Count Philip Saint Martin of Agliè (1604–1667) was a central figure in the Turinese Baroque building boom. He was also one of the inventors of ballet and opera.
D’Agliè was best known in his day as a dazzling showman. He designed, created, and directed the public festivals for the Duchy of Savoy, a small, yet regally ambitious, European autocracy. D’Agliè, born and bred in Savoy of a prominent local family, was a soldier, singer, composer, dancer, musician, diplomat, political strategist, costume and set designer, and the manager/financier of many massive urban construction projects. As the right-hand man of his sovereign, d’Agliè did most anything and everything she asked from him. …