Rudy Rucker (1946–) is an American science fiction writer, and former professor of mathematics and computer science. He is one of the founders of the Cyberpunk movement, although his work tends to be a bit more light-hearted than most in that movement, and often features elements of mathematics-based surrealism which border on the fantastic.
His first novel, White Light (1980) was a fictional exploration of the ideas of infinity and transfinite numbers, and was the start of his Transrealist series. He is probably best known for his Ware Tetrology, which includes the award-winning novels Software and Wetware. Altogether, he has written over twenty genre novels and a variety of short stories. In addition, he has published several non-fiction books, primarily mathematical, and has edited a pair of science fiction anthologies with stories from a variety of writers.
He retired from teaching at San Jose State University in California in 2004.
Selected Works by Rudy Rucker:
- Transrealist Novels:
- White Light (1980)
- Spacetime Donuts (1981)
- The Sex Sphere (1983)
- The Secret of Life (1985)
- The Hacker and the Ants (1994)
- Saucer Wisdom (1999)
- The Big AHA (2013)
- The Ware Tetrology:
- Software (1982)
- Wetware (1988)
- Freeware (1997)
- Realware (2000)
- The 57th Franz Kafka (collection, 1983)
- The Fourth Dimension (1984, non-fiction)
- Master of Space and Time (1984)
- The Hollow Earth (1990)
- Spaceland (2002, an homage to Flatland)
- As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel (2002)
- The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me about Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and how to be Happy (2005, non-fiction)
- Mathematicians in Love (2006)
- Postsingular (2007)
- Turing and Burroughs (2012)
Tropes in his works:
- Brain Monster: In Master of Space and Time, a giant brain became the Messiah of a Religion of Evil in an alternate dimension. Then it spawned regular-sized brains that can move around by crawling, attach to people's backs and mind-control them.
- Can't Use Stairs: A plot point in The Hacker and the Ants was the extreme difficulty in designing a robot to handle stairs.
- Equivalent Exchange: In Master of Space and Time, time travel supposedly requires sending something forward in time if you send something backward. The twist is that the author ascribed to the shrinking universe theory, which meant that sending his pet lizard forward in time resulted in Godzilla: Jersey Shore.
- Historical-Domain Character: the short story "Tales of Houdini" focuses on the post-WWII career of magician Harry Houdini (who actually died in 1926, before the war started).
- No Party Given: Mathematicians In Love is a rare example of someone bothering to change the names of the parties—"Heritagist" and "Common Ground"—while still making it very, very obvious that he's talking about real-life politics. (The Heritagists are a party of closed-minded conservatives who are rampantly curtailing civil liberties and have just gotten done wrecking the country through a disastrous war in the Middle East. The Common Ground party is a party that's just gotten done running a completely uncharismatic war veteran against the Heritagists and utterly failing to unseat them, causing a wave of despair among liberals determined to abandon the country and move to Canada.)
- Mind Virus: Master of Space and Time has a section where the heroes visit an alternate dimension full of "meme viruses". One of the characters is bitten by a "Jesus Lizard" and subsequently starts gaining messiah-like characteristics, along with growing out his hair and beard and wearing sandals all the time.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Parodied. The protagonist of The Hacker and the Ants keeps a password in a swordfish: to be specific, the unlocking-code for a secure file is concealed within a Virtual Reality simulated swordfish in the clip-art drawer of his virtual office.
- Single Precept Religion: This is played with in Master Of Space And Time. One of the main characters wishes up a door to a parallel world where he can have an adventure. The world is controlled by a cult run by The Puppet Masters-like slugs. The cult has three teachings, God's Laws, which are "1. Follow Gary. 2. Be Clean. 3. Teach God's Laws". One character describes it as "A thought virus. A parasitic system that propagates itself."
- The Singularity: Postsingular begins with Mars being turned into computronium—and back.
- Zeerust: The Hacker And The Ants is yet another Cyberpunk-ish novel in which driverless cars are assembled from kits and VR is widely used for everything from shopping to cheap sex. Yet cell phones (as in Neuromancer) are nowhere to be found, people still need to change CDs manually on their stereos, and the main character's hyper-sophisticated home office has no wireless connections between components, because equipping it with those would be hideously expensive.