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In 2003, @eileen_gunn's pioneering online sf magazine shut down, and so did @bruces' early seminal blog, the Schism Matrix.…

But thankfully, that wasn't the end of Bruce Sterling's blogging career: @wired gave him an (unpaid) online home for a new blog, every bit as cranky, esoteric, gnomic and darkly comic as Bruce himself: Beyond the Beyond.…

Now, Beyond the Beyond is done. Wired publisher Conde Nast is in such deep financial trouble that they're realizing minuscule savings like those to be gleaned from shutting down an unpaid blog.

Sterling's written a fantastic farewell post.…

Sterling has a long history with Wired and an even longer one publishing hugely influential (and paradoxically obscure) esoteric projects, most notably CHEAP TRUTH, the 300-circulation xeroxed free cyberpunk zine that set the direction for the whole field.

Here's the full run as ebooks (donationware in support of the Transatlantic Fan Fund):…

Here's some gloriously grainy scans:…

Then there's Sterling's long association with Wired: he was on the cover of the first issue (!) and had a column for several years. Fun fact: I dropped out of university after reading that issue and got a job as a multimedia programmer.

Sterling's run on Beyond the Beyond was wide-ranging, prescient, cranky and fascinating. As he notes, BtB was the cradle of both "design fiction" and augmented reality.

But BtB's real purpose was as a novelist's "commonplace book" - a kind of mood board for writing. This is exactly what my own blogging has been: a way for me to make notes to myself, but for an audience, which demands a rigor that personal writing lacks.

Unlike me, though, Sterling keeps extensive paper notebooks and (jfc) destroys them: "You don’t have creative power over words unless you can delete them."

This is so right on: "The writerly act of organizing and assembling inchoate thought seems to helps me. If I blogged something then I had tightened it, I had brightened it. I had summarized it in some medium outside my own head."

"Posting on the blog was a form of psychic relief, a stream of consciousness that had moved from my eyes to my fingertips; by blogging, I removed things from the fog of vague interest and I oriented them toward possible creative use."

Preach, brother.

And also: "Often, it’s the determined act of writing it down that allows one to realize the true sterility of a silly idea; that’s how the failure gets registered in memory; 'oh yes, I tried that, there’s nothing there.'"

Sterling's epitaph is such a good eulogy/summary of tech era: "People often paid me to write, and to speak, too, but the pay was never commensurate with the impact of the work. What people cheerfully paid for, and what they actually cared about, were different things."

"I came to understand that creative work that pleased the markets did not much affect people personally."

"Also, critical recommendations are powerful: 'If you think you like this thing, then you should look at that other, better thing, because that’s the real deal!' Nobody ever paid me for this countercultural guru activity, but man, that action really messed with people."

That's so good, and so right. There's no pleasure - and no power - more satisfying than shining light on things you love and awakening others to them.

Now, some vintage Sterling Nuggets:

"'Real artists ship,' and yes, they do have to ship something, or else they’re not artists. But they don’t have to ship everything they know. That’s because they’re artists, and they’re not a shipping service."

"I knew from the beginning that my weblog would surely cease some day, and I frequently warned readers that 'blogs,' the 'internet,' desktop computers, browser software and so forth, were all passing phenomena."

"If I was a young person, and starting over today, I would not experiment with a weblog supported by a West Coast US technology magazine. Instead, I would try something more youthful in spirit, less conventional, more beyond-the-beyond."

Godspeed, Chairman Bruce.

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