Literary Freeware: Not for Commercial Use
Speech at Lifelike Computer Characters ’95
September 29, 1995
Thanks for that introduction. Hi, my name’s Bruce Sterling, I write science fiction novels. In the past few days, quite a few people have asked me what the heck I’m doing here.
That’s a good question, and just to get a grip on that, I’d like to poll the audience before we get started…. How many people here actually write fiction? I’m not asking if you sell it, I just want to know if you’re brave enough to publicly admit that you write fiction. I want to see you raise your hand.
Thanks. That’s very interesting. You may or may not know that two of the hottest and most successful science fiction writers today, Neal Stephenson and Greg Egan, are both former programmers. Just a data point for you there.
Very well, to the point then — what is a science fiction writer doing at an artificial character conference. I came here because it’s good material for me, of course. You see, many science fiction critics consider the first true work of modern generic science fiction to be a book whose theme is the artificial creation of a lifelike character. That book is Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN. So you see, even if there were no such thing as science fiction, conferences like this would require us to invent it.