Cyberpunk progenitor Sterling’s alternate history novella is bizarre, chock-full of famous people in improbable situations, and wildly entertaining, even when the worldbuilding seems to go a little off the rails. Lorenzo Secondari, a veteran of the recently ended Great War and forever changed by it, is the head engineer of the titular utopia, the Italian free state of Fiume.
Rick Klaw at THE GEEK CURMUDGEON shares the unpublished parts of the Bruce Sterling interview from PIRATE UTOPIA.
Back in April on the eve of the annual SXSW Interactive Festival, I met with Bruce Sterling for an interview that’ll be in the forthcoming PIRATE UTOPIA. While roughly 90% of the original discussion made it’s way into the finished book (due out in November from Tachyon Publications), this bit, which I post following the description of the story, was deemed too timely an accompaniment for a tale about events set in Fiume following the First World War.
RICK: Are we talking about “we” as the world?
BRUCE: Everywhere, really. The people in the US are obsessed with Donald Trump; in Italy they’ve just…they’re not worried about him, they just know he’s [Silvio] Berlusconi. “Oh, you’ve got Berlusconi! You’ve got a Berlusconi!” Everybody knows what’s going to happen: he’s going to feather his own nest and have a lot of sex with very young women and everyone around him will be as corrupt as he is, ‘cause he bullshits all the time. The thing that is attractive about Berlusconi is that he doesn’t make you do anything. It’s actually kind of relaxing; everybody knows what he’s going to do: he’s just gonna get up and start bullshitting, laughing, swinging his dick around, cheering for the soccer team, driving fast cars. He’s not particularly malignant or anything, and you know he’s not gonna bother you. He’s not going to like, ask you to rise to the level of you better nature. On the contrary, everybody should be in the mud with me! Let’s just relax! Where’s the problem? We’re winning! It’s just very hard to accomplish anything with this bullshit all the time. The fix is in; his cronies aren’t very good, he doesn’t really have a plan, he’s kind of winging it, and it’s very debilitating for stuff like foreign policy, tough economic decisions, infrastructure development, like “Where are you gonna put the highway?” “Who cares?” It’s hard to get rid of him because everybody’s so demoralized by the louche atmosphere of the fish rotting from the head down. Until the guy just becomes nuts and just like, starts having public orgies and just loses all sense of proportion, then it becomes sort of embarrassing. It’s like, well, if we allow ourselves to be associated with this utter pervert. But he’s still in business in Italy and scheming to return to power, and he has guys in his court.
For more info on PIRATE UTOPIA, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and image by John Coulthart