Bruce Bethke

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Bruce Bethke, science fiction author, in 2001

Bruce Bethke (born 1955) is an American author, best known for his 1983 short story "Cyberpunk" which led to the widespread use of the term, and his novel, Headcrash.

Bethke's collected thoughts on the cyberpunk subculture are collected on his website, in an essay entitled "The Etymology of Cyberpunk".[1]


Bethke lives in Minnesota where he works as a developer of supercomputer software.

Published fiction[edit]


Written from an outline by Isaac Asimov in 1990, this novel was one of a series of novels set in Asimov's Robot universe.


Bethke's first published novel, published in 1995. Headcrash is the story of Jack Burroughs, a computer nerd in his mid twenties, who lives with his overbearing mother, and works a dead-end job at a software firm. Jack lives a far more interesting virtual life in the metaverse, where he is an elite hacker who goes by the handle MAX_KOOL. Along with his friend Gunnar, Jack is hired to hack into a corporate system to retrieve files proving that the company was stolen from the rightful heir of its founder. This novel was awarded the Philip K. Dick Award.

This work is sometimes credited with the first use of the word "Spam" as a term for junk e-mail. Bethke replies that while he appreciates the thought, the term was in common use on usenet long before he used it in Headcrash.

Rebel Moon[edit]

A collaboration with Vox Day, Rebel Moon was the novelization of the prequel of the game Rebel Moon Rising. The main plot is similar to The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, though the book itself focuses on a few individual characters and their battles in the war, and not the political and economic ramifications of a battle for independence on the moon.

Wild Wild West[edit]

The novelization of the critically panned steampunk film Wild Wild West. Bethke summarily dismisses the novel on his website, stating it was how he paid for a new roof for his house.

Unpublished fiction[edit]


Initially written as a series of short stories in 1980, the culminated novel was purchased by a publisher via an exclusive contract which forbade Bethke to sell the novel to any other publisher. The publisher decided not to release the novel, causing several years of legal battles over the rights to the book. Bethke has a downloadable version of the novel available for five dollars on his website.


Bethke is currently creator and Editor in Chief of the monthly anthology series "Stupefying Stories" which he began publishing in 2012.


  1. ^ "The Etymology of Cyberpunk" from Bethke's website

External links[edit]