Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bruce Sterling

The Zenith Angle deserves some recognition, as do all of Sterling's books. This latest was especially interesting as he mentions the SR71, or Blackbird (secret US spy plane).

At our library last year we had a fundraiser, compliments of a former Blackbird pilot, in honor of the centennial of the year of flight. Not really expecting to enjoy it, I was there because it was work. Was I ever wrong. What a treat.

Incredible shots taken in flight on a plane that can make it across country in 45 minutes. Sterling's story didn't really have anything to do with this plane, though he mentions it more than once in relation to a special tool made of titanium (the SR71 was made of the same, allowing it to sustain phenomenally high intensity heat).

In his latest novel, Sterling relocates us to a reality so multidimensional that it could really be real. So far of all his novels the only one that hasn't played out inside my head just like watching a movie was The Difference Engine, which he co-authored. I had a discussion, an argument really, with the guy that turned me on to cyberpunk some years ago. He was in awe, enthralled with Gibson and Sterling and aspired to write as well as they did. Having an English lit MA, I was sure that his goal was shortsighted. I delegated his favorite cyberpunk authors to popular fiction and advised him to read "real" literature for inspiration for his writing.

The question in my mind now is the old one of "what is art?" Perhaps literary artform for the 21st century will be novelists who are able to show us movies inside our heads, incorporating high tech improbabilities with world politics, and a little romantic humor thrown in just because. Even in the new millenium we are still strangely human after all.