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Realware
Rudy Rucker
HarperCollins/EOS Books, 320 pages

Realware
Rudy Rucker
Born in Louisville, KY, Rudy Rucker went to private schools in Louisville then to Swarthmore College, majoring in Mathematics, and to Rutgers University for his Master's and Ph.D. in Mathematics. His first SF novel was Spacetime Donuts, some of which was published in a magazine called Unearth. Next came White Light and Software, both published by Ace. Software has been optioned to Phoenix Pictures.

Rudy Rucker's Home Page
ISFDB Bibliography
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 Charlene Brusso

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Philip K. Dick Award-winner Rudy Rucker's Ware series (Software, Wetware, Freeware) concludes with this fast-paced and cheerful homage to Edwin Abbott's Victorian classic Flatland. When San Francisco-based chef Phil Gottner discovers that his father has apparently been swallowed whole by a "wowo," a multidimensional holographic toy modeled on a Klein bottle, the weirdness typical to Rucker's worlds is just getting started. Phil's seriously messed-up and needy girlfriend Kevvie will try any drug, but she's addicted to merge, which breaks down cell structures, allowing bodies to flow together into a single gloopy organism -- like the nano-factured end of human evolution in Greg Bear's Blood Music. Phil doesn't do drugs of any kind, so clearly their relationship is doomed. Not long after his dad's funeral Phil meets sexy Moon-born Yoke Star-Mydol, whose mother Darla was also eaten by a bizarre multidimensional alien. Love, or at least infatuation, blooms.

Not wanting to come between Phil and Kevvie, Yoke accepts another guy's offer to travel to the exotic South Pacific island of Tonga -- only to find he has an ulterior motive, and it's not just seduction. Turns out that some mysterious aliens have taken up residence deep in the Tonga Trench. They've contacted the King of Tonga and asked specifically to meet Yoke. For the sake of simplicity (in this case, a vast oversimplification), the dimension-hopping aliens call themselves Metamartians, and their world Metamars. Their 4D "god" Om is responsible for the disappearance of Yoke's mom, they say, and now generous Om would like to make it up to Yoke by giving her an "alla," a device which allows Yoke to create anything she can visualize using "realware," based on the "advanced science" of direct matter control. Fortunately Yoke doesn't seem too broken up over losing her mom, nor very nervous about trusting aliens, and she happily accepts the alien's "gift."

Yoke's alla -- and its ability to manufacture things like gold at will -- makes her very popular with the Tonganese. But then the Metamartians trick Phil into getting swallowed by Om. Rather than investigate ways to save Phil, Yoke cuts her losses and heads back to San Francisco, where she figures out how to use her alla to make more allas for all her friends. The ensuing greed-grabbing and its consequences are completely predictable.

In the meantime Phil has been reunited with his father as well as Yoke's mom Darla and another lunar refugee named Tempest Plenty somewhere in the fourth dimension of Om's digestive system. A bargain with Om allows Phil and the women to escape to San Francisco just as the alla troubles are reaching a peak. As if that weren't trouble enough, Phil's old girlfriend Kevvie suddenly reappears like an evil killer robot to wreak her revenge on Yoke via a loophole in alla usage. Fortunately the Metamartians show up just in time as deus ex machina to save the day.

Fans of Rucker's fast and furious plotting, his clever biotech devices, and the multi-dimensional mathematical wizardry àla Flatland are sure to enjoy the book. Readers new to Rucker and the Ware setting, on the other hand, may well find the story a bit lightweight, with no real characters or a gripping plot to capture their attention. Call this one a "summer" read.

Copyright © 2000 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.


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