Regular readers (including, embarrassingly enough, The Man Himself) will be aware of my status as a card-carrying Bruce Sterling fan-boy, but as it’s a fandom I know many Futurismic readers share I feel I can more than justify linking to a recent interview with Sterling conducted by David de Beer at the Nebula Awards website.
As usual, you get both sides of the Sterling coin: the lengthy and discursive answers:
The Commercial vs the Artistic in writing – is there a genuine difference between these two philosophies or are they artifical attributes? Are they in opposition, and if so, can they meet?
Well, I hang out a lot in countries where the creatives write in minority languages, and really, that’s just not an issue for them. They know what American commercial writing looks like, but they themselves don’t HAVE any “commerce.” There aren’t enough potential readers to establish a market.
What they DO commonly have is “political writing,” the kind of stuff that gets your fingertips broken by the secret police. So: take a guy like recent Nobel-Prize winner Orhan Pamuk — super-popular worldwide, a real old-school deep-thinking artsy literatus, and the crazy-fascist wing of the Turkish secret police are trying hard to kill him. Now that guy is a writer’s writer. He’s got all those supposed oppositions stuffed into one refugee valise. You know, fretting about a commercial sell-out is the least of Orhan’s problems.
Furthermore, it’s dead obvious that the writing problems that matter in America now are political rather than “commercial” or “artistic”. America’s suffering a Civil Cold War. Or at least, they were until the Right’s culture-warriors started losing it.
And the short sharp punches-in-the-nose:
Electronic vs Print publishing – any thoughts on the matter?
You should talk to my colleagues in newspapers. If you can find any newspapers left.
Go read – even if you’re not a fan of his fiction, Sterling keeps an ear to the ground of reality better than any sf writer of his generation, and that alone makes him worth paying attention to.