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Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker
Rudy Rucker
Tor, 327 pages

Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker
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.

Rudy Rucker's Home Page
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Mad Professor: The Uncollected Short Stories
SF Site Review: Master of Space and Time
SF Site Review: Frek and the Elixir
SF Site Review: The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0
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 Richard A. Lupoff

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Rudy Rucker is one of those authors who establish themselves as solid professionals, work in a variety of modes, even take home some literary awards, but never quite make it into the big time, best-selling, superstar class. Sometimes they're known as "writers' writers." I think that characterization applies most aptly to Rudy Rucker.

Rucker's science fiction ranges from serious-minded studies of realistic persons plunged into fantastic realms -- he calls this form "transrealism" -- to fairly conventional adventure SF, to children's fables, to a historical bio-novel of the late Renaissance painter Peter Bruegel, to at least one deadpan pastiche of the old Verne-Poe-Bradshaw-Burroughs hollow earth novel, called appropriately, The Hollow Earth. At least, I think it was a deadpan pastiche. That's one of the charming aspects of Rucker's work, although it may also have limited his success. Sometimes you don't know whether he'd kidding or not.

Intermixed with these have been books like Software Engineering and Computer Games, Mind Tools, Infinity and the Mind, and Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension.

There is just no way to put Rudy Rucker in a box and label it, "space opera writer" or "serious character-based novelist" or "hard science guy." He's all these things, plus a university professor emeritus, a software maven -- and a published poet!

Here's a man who established himself as a serious academic mathematician and computer scientist as well as writing a couple of dozen novels -- most, but not all of them, science fiction -- several volumes of short stories, and a small but significant shelf of books on mathematics and computer science. Maybe he scares people off. Maybe they think they won't understand his books. Maybe he does so many different things, and all of them so well, that readers don't know what to make of him.

In any case, his autobiography, previously issued in a limited edition by PS Publishing in England, is now available in a larger edition in North America. Nor is it an exercise in self-promotion, nor a mere career retrospective. You know, "I wrote this and then I wrote that and then I wrote the other thing...."

No way!

Nested Scrolls a remarkably candid full-scale autobiography. It takes Rucker from a childhood in small-town Kentucky through school, college, marriage and career. We see him in a good relationship with his brother and a very complex and troubled relationship with his father. We see him adapting, or trying to adapt, as an ex-pat US schoolboy having to get along in a European elementary school. We see him growing up, enjoying a brief career as (almost) a rock star, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, forging an academic career, and growing into his role as husband, father, and grandfather.

In a way this book is not just the autobiography of one man, but of a generation of Americans. Certainly there were moments in the book which were as alien to me as a visit to the moons of Neptune. And there were others that had me nodding my head and smiling the "been-there-done-that" smile.

Nested Scrolls is, to put it succinctly, a great read.

Copyright © 2012 Richard A. Lupoff

Richard A. Lupoff's most recent novel is a police procedural, Rookie Blues (Dark Sun Press). Also now available for the first time in paperback are his collections Visions and Dreams (Hippocampus Press). He is currently polishing up an as-yet unpublished nonfiction book, working title Q101: Writing the Mystery Novel from Inspiration to Publication, which had been on his bucket list since 1997. He's finally written it. And about time, isn't it?


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