Rudolf von Bitter Rucker was born on the 22nd of March, 1946, in Louisville, Kentucky, United States of America. Rudolf is an American science fiction writer, a computer scientist, a mathematician, and is often cited as being amongst the founders of the cyberpunk literary movement.
Rudolf doesn’t write only fiction novels, but has dipped his hand in the non-fiction segment, too. He is, however, primarily known for his Ware Tetralogy, for which he was awarded two Philip K. Dick Awards.
Like we said, Rudolf was born and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. A little-known fact is that the great- great-great-great-grandfather of Rucker is actually the eminent German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Rudolf went to the St. Xavier High School prior to going to college. He acquired his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Swarthmore College. His Master’s and PhD were earned, also in mathematics, from Rutgers University.
In the year of 1967, Rudolf married Sylvia Rucker, after which the couple raised three children together. In 2008, however, Rucker suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Supposing that his time might be coming, Rucker wrote his autobiography. A fortunate news is that Rucker is still alive and doing well, twelve years after the upsetting ailment.
As such, we can now take a look at the best books by Rudy Rucker. However, we covered some of his books in standalone articles, such as Spacetime Donuts book review.
Best Rudy Rucker Books
Ware Book Series
- Software, published in 1982.
- Wetware, published in 1988.
- Freeware, published in 1997.
- Realware, published in 2000.
The first book, Software, deals with the issue of combining a human and a robot into just one being. Right off the bat, that’s a philosophical doozy, in and of itself.
Misty is a young woman. Misty is also totally robot under the hood. Misty, however, has a personality. She has thoughts and she has, in her own words, an identity. Misty is thus a bopper.
Twenty-five-year-old Stanley Hilary Mooney Jr, or Sta-Hi for short, is attracted to the alluring Misty. However, he does have second thoughts once the thought of wires and mechanical parts behind her seductive exterior begins to form in his mind.
This notion of a cybernetic organism being capable to have its own thoughts, walk, talk, speak, and act like a human, isn’t all that eldritch a thought. Especially in our own time.
There’s mention of three laws of robotics that were written by fellow sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov during the 1940s. The gist of the laws is that humans come first, while robots follow. A bopper, Ralph Numbers, doesn’t concur with Asimov’s words. He helps his fellow boppers to reprogram themselves so as to finally become completely free. Cobb Anderson was the first person to create boppers, but what he endowed them with was the ability to create even more independent boppers. From the run-of-the-mill bopper comes a conscious bopper, then a self-aware bopper, and finally one that strives for universal consciousness.
Really, there’s not enough time in the world to go through everything that occurs in the first book, alone, not just the tetralogy. The novels are true classics of the genre and are, without a doubt, amongst the best Rudy Rucker books.
Postsingular Book Series
- Postsingular, published in 2007.
- Hylozoic, published in 2009.
The story starts out in California. A billionaire – the largest portion of whose fortune comes from the computer industry – along with the United States President come together to transform the world via sentient nanotech. They are successful, but their plans are thwarted and reversed by a boy named Chu.
They try once more, and this time it isn’t quite as lightweight a feat to thwart them.
Earth and Mars are decimated and reconstructed in a dozen or so pages, whereby an unrecognizable transformation has occurred. Things seem the same, but the people are vastly different. For starters, humans are capable of reading the minds of others. Another new thing is that travel between worlds in the quantum universe is a feasible feat, so an influx of giant humanoids is, as expected, upon us. They are here to help, or maybe they aren’t quite as candid with their intentions.
Now after the first book’s events, in the second book, Hylozoic, every human is capable of teleporting and communicating via telepathy. Something even more bizarre is that every single bit of matter on the face of the Earth, no matter how minute, inert or odd, is capable of communication and is sentient.
This new, Hylozoic Earth is at the forefront of experiments and examinations being done by the aforementioned alien race. However, a few worthy humans are making an attempt to get everything back to normal.
The Hollow Earth Book Series
Yet another duology by Rucker. This one is tamer than the previous one we discussed, but still features the striking, endlessly intriguing prose that Rucker is famous for. The Hollow Earth series consists of the following books:
- The Hollow Earth, published in 1990.
- Return to the Hollow Earth, published in 2018.
The Hollow Earth is just one hell of a fun book.
The year is 1836. The main character is Mason Algiers Reynolds. Having had a few mishaps, Mason has to get away for a little bit. Who better to escape with than everyone’s favorite Gothic poet, Edgar Allan Poe.
Mason leaves his Virginian farm along with the slave of his father – this was the 1800s, after all –, a dog, and, finally, a mule. Having been referred to and even branded as a killer, Mason along with his hero Poe embark on an icy expedition to the South Pole. What they don’t know is that the South Pole is home to many a strange man, strange creatures, and the land where the bizarre occurrences are plentiful.
The second book, Return to the Hollow Earth, sees Mason having settled down. His wife Seela and Mason go on a trip around Cape Horn to get to San Francisco. As expected, their ship doesn’t make it to San Francisco. Thankfully, they are saved by a flying nautilus. This nautilus takes them to old friend Edgar Allan Poe. With Poe, they travel to the Hollow Earth once more. In the Hollow Earth, though, they are offered a once in a lifetime – mainly because if you fail, that’s it for your life – mission across time and space. Wouldn’t you know it, they are transported to the wacky year of 2018.
As weird as any Rucker tale, the series features, beyond a shadow of a doubt, some of the best Rudy Rucker books.
Our main character is Felix Rayman. Felix is a mathematics professor that spends most of his days teaching uninterested students, contemplating and pondering the very concept of eternity and infinity, and occasionally by daydreaming.
However, one day Felix gets intrigued by the notion of astral travel. As is the custom, his body is left untenanted as he meanders into a dream. What follows is nothing short of a frightful, exuberant, infinitely confusing, and jaw-droppingly fun trip throughout the universe. A step beyond space and time is where the White Light is situated.
While the very thought of something similar happening might deter the dubious reader, Felix is asked by Jesus to protect and help guide just one soul – out of countless – to the Absolute One – the Absolute One being the notorious G. O. D., himself. In a wild case of not being careful of what one wishes, Felix is set on a trip through the realm beyond all realms, to the world of the spirits, on a quest to find the very crux of Infinity.
This isn’t an attempt by Rucker to write a character that we won’t forget. It is a concept book that shines brighter than what one would think is warranted. It is surreal, mind-bending, and it is a wonderful book.
The Hacker and the Ants
The main character is the enigmatic Jerzy Rugby. Jerzy is working as a programmer in the mecca of programmers, Silicon Valley. The company he works for is called ‘Go Motion’. What Jerzy’s job consists of is utilizing algorithms of a genetic nature to create the most best Artificial Intelligence feasible for a certain robot that the company intends on manufacturing and selling in the coming years.
Jerzy’s intimate life, however, has taken a bit of a hit. He recently separated from his wife and his kids. A pesky, annoying realtor is also hassling him, almost daily, to have him leave his old family home. Jerzy thus throws himself headfirst into all the programming and hacking he can get done, most of which happens in Virtual Reality – a safe haven from the cruelty of the real world.
Virtual Reality, however, comes with a bit of a drawback, it seems, as Jerzy bears witness to a VR ant walking on his computer. It seems that a chance rat has made it into the machinery and has caused something wholly unexpected. If Jerzy was stumped by a single VR ant, what can we say when millions upon millions find their way on the Net?
Soon, Jerzy is wanted for sabotage and treason as he attempts to clear his name and end the VR plague that is happening.
You can further check out our The Sex Sphere book review if you like Rudy Rucker’s work.