Gnarl!: Stories

Rudy Von B. Rucker, Author Running Press Book Publishers $20 (576p) ISBN 978-1-56858-158-3
A mathematician and computer scientist, Rucker (Saucer Wisdom) is probably best known for the bitingly satirical fiction he wrote during SF's 1980s cyberpunk revolution. Arriving on the heels of his newly collected nonfiction, SEEK! (1999), this volume--his first book of short stories to be published in 17 years--collects 36 wonderful pieces. Arranged chronologically, the volume begins with ""Jumpin' Jack Flash,"" which, like a lot of Rucker's work, revolves around crackpot scientists, quantum reality, sexual confusion and screwed-up alien invasions. Later, ""Schr dinger's Cat"" considers time machines; ""The Indian Rope Trick Explained"" and ""Message Found in a Copy of Flatland"" pay homage to Edwin Abbott's classic Victorian novel (about life in two dimensions); and ""The Jack Kerouac Disembodied School of Poetics"" and ""The Andy Warhol Sandcandle"" add beat poets, Warhol and scientists like Richard Feynman into the mix. Even though his plots frequently fit the bill as traditional hard SF-- stories like ""The Last Einstein-Rosen Bridge,"" ""A New Experiment with Time"" and ""The Man Who Ate Himself"" each imagine a bizarre device, and then recount its effect on people--Rucker's edgy prose is consistently innovative. The only disappointment in the volume is ""Pac-Man""--a predictable story about video game obsession and secret government plots. Despite the broadness of range, Rucker's crisp writing and quantum wanderings keep the work fresh. Fans will treasure this immense collection; even readers unfamiliar with Rucker's work will find in these stories a multitalented, challenging author whose work stretches and distorts the oft-staid boundaries of traditional SF. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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