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Seek!
Rudy Rucker
Four Walls Eight Windows, 365 pages


Design: Julie Metz
Seek!
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 Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Freeware
Four Walls Eight Windows

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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Rudy Rucker is best known in science fiction for his novels, including Software, Freeware, and Wetware. He is also an accomplished writer of non-fiction, and Seek! is a collection of essays and articles, some of them never before published, that were written over the last 20 years. The articles cover a wide range of topics, from cyberpunk to the art of Pieter Bruegel, from mysticism to Rucker's experiences travelling in Europe and Japan. If Carl Sagan had been a computer scientist with a taste for underground rock music instead of a classically-oriented astronomer, he might have come up with a collection along the lines of Seek!.

Seek! is divide into three sections. The first, dealing with science, relates how Rucker became involved with computer programming, and especially with a form of software known as cellular automata that he has used to create what he calls Artificial Life. Rucker became involved with many of the people who first began exploring the capabilities of desktop computers, and if you've ever wondered just how that Pentium chip in your PC was made, you'll find it here.

The second section, "Life," is, for me, the most interesting. It's here we find Rucker's thoughts on mysticism, and his relationship with the memory of Philip K. Dick. Two of the essays are especially touching. The first relates his experiences living in the hometown of Jerry Falwell, and includes an encounter with a surprisingly humorous Cal Thomas, the conservative newspaper columnist. The second is a tribute to the life of the Rucker family dog, Arf, a mongrel with a will of his own.

The final section of the book deals with Rucker's thoughts on art, and include his take on the cyberpunk movement, and his growing appreciation of the paintings of the Belgian artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. As one of the original cyberpunk writers, Rucker has insight into the intentions and goals of those writers, and shares his views on the works of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and John Shirley.

In one of the essays, Rucker has fun drawing parallels between himself and the other cyberpunks with the beat writers of the 50s and 60s. He feels a kinship with William Burroughs, and it's a telling comparison. Rucker's fiction writing can at times be a bit difficult and obscure, he tends to over-complicate his ideas and writes with an involved prose style. In contrast, his non-fiction writing is more straightforward, perhaps because he has more of an incentive to get his point across to the reader. In a science fiction novel, it can actually be fun at times for the reader to wonder "What the heck is this all about?" but in an essay you want the reader to understand precisely what you're trying to say. Regardless of the author's possible motivations, however, Seek! provides an interesting and highly readable look into the mind of a writer who remains one of the field's true iconoclasts, perhaps the only writer in science fiction who can legitimately be compared to both Hunter S. Thompson and the aforementioned Carl Sagan.

Copyright © 1999 by Greg L. Johnson

After reading Seek!, reviewer Greg L. Johnson was left wondering why some of the things that have happened to Rudy Rucker at SF conventions have never happened to him. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction and Tangent Online.


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