by Rudy Rucker
Four Walls Eight Windows 1999
Rudy Rucker has quickly become one of my favorite writers over the last few months, mostly because of his casual yet intelligent style, and partly because I seem to stumble upon his writing with an increased frequency that’s a bit too non-random to be merely coincidence. As Rucker himself would put it, he’s a strange attractor.
Seek gathers together several non-fiction pieces that Rucker has written over a span of nearly twenty years. His career has included stints in academia (math/computer science), programmer, “cyberpunk”/science fiction writer, and more… there’s plenty of life experience for Rucker to draw from for his essays. They vary significantly in topic; here, they’re grouped as having to do with “Science,” “Life” and “Art.” The author’s voice wanders all around, making no particular effort to appear either completely subjective nor completely objective. Rucker discusses being drunk and berating a neighbor for his associations with Jerry Fallwell with the same ease as he does the rules that govern cellular automata. Science, life and art all fascinate Rucker equally, and by the time Seek wraps up, you’ve explored fractals, Japan, infinity, dope, nanotechnology, the art of writing, artificial life, and the Church of the Subgenius among others.
Best of all, Rucker makes the cramming of all this new information into your head seem effortless. I’ve gotten less out of books that took me eight times longer to plow through — if you’re looking for something that’s a few steps above the populist science of newsstand magazines but doesn’t sacrifice style or content for digestibility, this is your book.