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The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0
Rudy Rucker
Four Walls Eight Windows, 308 pages

The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0
Rudy Rucker
Born in Louisville, KY, in 1946, Rudy Rucker studied at Swarthmore College and got his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Rutgers University. He initially worked as a mathematics professor, and is now a professor of computer science at San Jose State University. His main career is as an author; he has published 24 books. He is known for his Philip K. Dick-award-winning *Ware series (Soft*, Wet*, Free*, and Real*). Freeware is under option to Directed Evolution Neworks.

Regarding The Hacker and the Ants, he writes in the book's new preface:
True to the tinkering hacker spirit, I've freely revised The Hacker and the Ants for its republication by Four Walls Eight Windows. It seems reasonable to refer to this edition as Release 2.0."

Rudy Rucker's Home Page
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Realware
SF Site Review: Seek!
SF Site Review: White Light and Master of Space & Time and The 57th Franz Kafka
SF Site Review: Freeware

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Advertisement
There are robots, and then there are robots. Some people hear the word and think of those annoying mechanical sidekicks from science fiction (I'm looking at you, Twiki...) and decide that real robots are still in our not-so-distant future. Robots, though, are in our midst every day and we seldom notice because they don't fit our space opera definition. Aside from our assembly-line machines and not-remotely-lifelike techno-pets, our world is filled with robots in human bodies.

Jerzy Rugby is a perfect example of an organic robot; he's made of all the same parts as us, but his every move is orchestrated and controlled by someone else. Jerzy is a pawn, acting at the whim of others without ever realising the irony as he works to turn out more refined computer-driven robots. And, like anyone who blindly obeys commands, he is going to end up the fall guy. From his bosses to his lover to his realtor, everyone around him is frogmarching him through life. Sadly, he seldom even notices.

In this tweaked, upgraded edition of Rudy Rucker's 1993 novel, Jerzy is a talented hacker (and you'll learn a whole new connotation for that word) working on perfecting a household robot for first one, then a second, company. His eccentric boss is working on creating artificial life, a bit-map ant colony. When the ants cross over into Jerzy's computer and his own robot, it is only the beginning of an invasion that will change the world, for better or worse.

Step in, Mr. Scapegoat. All the evidence points to Jerzy as the out-of-control criminal that everyone wants caught and strung up. The fact that he didn't do anything wrong pales into insignificance alongside the inconvenience his alleged actions have caused. To make matters worse the very people who should be protecting such a valued employee seem to believe the media reports. Where can a man without a company go now?

The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0 is a perfect portrayal of a man whose only importance is his technical contribution. And that contribution is not enough to save him when things begin to spiral out of control.

Rucker's writing is everything we've come to expect of one of the genre's most talented, and most independent, thinkers. The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0 is simultaneously farcical, subversive, entertaining, and fascinating. Rucker sees the world with super-secret X-ray glasses that cut right to the heart of the faulty, foolish people we often are, and to the spark of potential that makes us worth salvaging.

Individually, that is -- as commercial entities we are all need to be separate before someone really gets hurt. And believe me, Rudy Rucker is not afraid to turn this thing around and go back home if we can't play quietly.

Copyright © 2003 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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