A potpourri of futuristic predictions presented in the form of an imaginary UFO abductee's confessional, Rucker's light-spirited cosmic romp promises more than it delivers. A mathematician, computer scientist, novelist and pop science writer (The Fourth Dimension), Rucker uses a purely fictive conceit: his friend Frank Shook, a tinkerer for a toy company in California, is abducted by friendly aliens who time-travel into the past and future. Through this device, in a dizzying narrative that reads like a science fiction novel, Rucker conjures a future where ""soft machines"" made of programmable plastic include video clothes, gizmos for telepathic communication and--in place of TV sets--UV (universal viewer) sets capable of tuning into millions of channels, creating an endless interplanetary party with everyone hooked in. People live in giant gourds, clone themselves and use Biobots (DNA-based robots) as daily helpers (e.g., giving massages). The aliens, who shape-shift into big starfish or gnomelike flesh-globs, take Frank aboard their UFO to demonstrate femtotechnology, a method of manipulating atoms to manufacture almost anything out of thin air. Frank experiences two years of missing time and winds up in South Dakota near Devil's Tower, the butte featured in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He gets a preview of the year 4004, when humans can teleport, travel on the astral plane and meld into the divine ground of reality. Illustrated with 57 of the fictional abductee's cartoonish or conceptualist drawings, this speculative space odyssey will try the patience of some readers, while others may groove to a mind-expanding leap into the future. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999 Release date: 07/01/1999 Genre: Nonfiction
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