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© Bella Stander

book reviews

by Rudy Rucker
(Four Walls Eight Windows)

July/August 2000

by Bella Stander

As Rucker, a mathematician and computer scientist, confesses in the preface to this collection of science fiction tales spanning the past 25 years, "the later stories are better than the earlier ones." Like a joke, a story tends to lose some of its punch when it needs an explanatory diagram, which is why readers conversant with physics will most appreciate "Schrödinger's Cat" and "The Indian Rope Trick Explained." However, even laypeople will get a chuckle out of the former tale, whose narrator concludes, based on the laws of quantum mechanics, that "it is logically possible to argue that it rains only because people believe it to be raining." "The Jack Kerouac Disembodied School of Poetics," in which the hipster is brought back from the dead to roam Heidelberg, typifies Rucker's obsessions with alcohol and pot, hippies and punks. His collaborations with other writers, particularly "Storming the Cosmos" with Bruce Sterling and "Instability" with Paul Di Filippo, which also features Kerouac, are more fully realized and less dependent on scientific esoterica than his solo efforts. Overall, best suited to sci-fi buffs and the pocket-protector set.

© 2000 Bella Stander

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