cover image Million Mile Road Trip

Million Mile Road Trip

Rudy Rucker. Night Shade, $14.99 trade paper (504p) ISBN 978-1-59780-992-4

Tipping his hat to Thomas Pynchon, Jack Kerouac, and Douglas Adams, Rucker (Return to the Hollow Earth) immerses readers in a fantastical roadtrip adventure that’s a wild ride of unmitigated joy. Zoe Snapp, soon to graduate from Los Perros High (in a thinly veiled version of Los Gatos, Calif.), convinces her surfer crush, Villy Antwerpen, to take her on a trip in his 1980s beater wagon. Zoe plays a strange trumpet riff that inadvertently opens a tunnel through which two friendly aliens emerge, ready to soup up their vehicle for a trip through “mappyworld,” a parallel universe in which the planets of our “ballyworld” are replaced by basins. Living flying saucers are intent on invading Earth so they can eat the “smeel,” or consciousness-stuff, of all of its inhabitants; to defeat them, Zoe and Villy must roam through mappyworld and collect the tools that they and Villy’s kid brother, Scud, will need to be the heroes of a “cosmic beatdown.” Rucker populates this story with boldly surreal, humorous personalities and environments and moves it at a frenzied, ever-increasing pace. Before it all falls apart, he ties everything together with internal consistency, playful use of language that keeps his ideas alien yet accessible, and a solid grounding in fourth-dimensional math. This wacky adventure is a geeky reader’s delight. (May)