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NESTED SCROLLS. Brussels TEDx Talk.

So I decided that I’d better write my autobiography before it was too late. What with death and senility closing in!

I didn’t want my autobio to be overly long or dry. I wanted it to read something like a novel. Unlike an encyclopedia entry, a novel isn’t a list of dates and events. A novel is all about characterization and description and conversation, about action and vignettes. I wanted to structure my autobiography, Nested Scrolls , like that.

The U.S. edition of Nested Scrolls comes out from Tor Books this week. You can order the hardcover or ebook Tor edition from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or direct from Tor. The Tor site has links for independent booksellers and further ebook formats.

Note that a more expensive collector’s edition is available from PS Press in England.

There’s a fashion these days for making video trailers for books. The following isn’t precisely about Nested Scrolls, but it will do. It’s a recent TEDx talk that I gave in Brussels covering a lot of the ideas that I touch on in my autobio.

And here’s a nice blurb from Regina Schroeder at Booklist :

This is a wild memoir, certainly as satisfying a read as any of Rucker’s novels… He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a beatnik writer, and in many ways, he has succeeded—in others, of course, he has surpassed his inspiration. It is, being the story of a life, not an easy road: there is trouble with his parents and with his wild-man lifestyle, and with work and sheer existence. By the end of the volume, though, the reader has a sense that it’s been an interesting and well-lived life, and it makes for a fascinating story, even the time he spends as a math teacher. This reads like Rucker’s novels, packed with adventures, filled with humor, and often quite surreal.

Here’s a photo of me in Jellyfish Lake in the South Pacific. Think of this as an image of me swimming around inside my mind—surrounded by ideas.

Another blurb, from Rick Kleffel, in his online site, The Agony Column :

What distinguishes Nested Scrolls is Rucker’s voice, which has this sort of steely, understated clarity. He writes in an almost flat, declarative style, which makes his rather amazing life all the more entertaining. He moves with equal ease through the halls of academia, science and science fiction. He effortlessly pushes the envelopes of math, technology, writing and art. He’s told us many stories chock full of verve and imagination, but his own story may be the most powerful he has to tell. … Perhaps, just perhaps, Nested Scrolls will change what people think, not just of Rucker but books.

This is a picture of me in the early 1980s, using my beloved IBM Selectric to write my novel Wetware, the cyberpunk classic that would win me my second Philp K. Dick award. At that time I was a freelance writer, i.e. unemployed. My family and I were living in Lynchburg, Virginia, of all places. I was the lone cyberpunk in evangelist Jerry Falwell’s home town.

I put a ton of other old photos online for Nested Scrolls.

The picture above shows me with a cone shell in 2004. I’m imagining that it’s sending alien thoughts into my head. For a more accurate description of how I wrote my autobio, see the free Notes for Nested Scrolls, a booklength PDF file of my writing notes, about 600 Meg.

And the plot for my autobiography? Well, okay, a real life doesn’t have a plot that’s as clear as a novel’s. But, as a writer, I can think about my life’s structure, about the story arc. And I’d like to know what it was all about. In writing my autobiography, I came up with a few ideas.

You might say that I searched for ultimate reality, and I found contentment in creativity. I tried to scale the heights of science, and I found my calling in mathematics and in science fiction. You don’t have to break the bank of the Absolute. Learning your craft can be enough.

As a youth, I was a loner. But then I found love and became a family man. I’ve spent a lot of time with my wife and our three children over the years. And now we have grandchildren. New saplings coming up as the old trees tumble down.

I’ve had a number of careers. Initially I was a math professor—math always came easy for me. Nothing to memorize! Then I took up writing, really that’s my core career. But, even with thirty-odd books out, writing doesn’t pay very much.

To make ends meet, I spent the last twenty years working as a computer science professor in Silicon Valley. Riding the wave. It was a blast. And eventually I even got good at teaching, mutating from a rebel to a somewhat helpful professor.

My autobiography’s title has to do with the notion of stories unfolding within stories—and the title also relates to a certain kind of computer graphic I did research on, cellular automata. An example appears above.

My book in a nutshell? Whatever I did, I never stopped seeing the world in my own special way, and I never stopped looking for new ways to share my thoughts.

6 Responses to “NESTED SCROLLS. Brussels TEDx Talk.”

  1. Stephan Bugaj Says:

    Congratulations on the latest book, can’t wait to read it!

  2. AllisonVaughan D'Aurizio Says:

    Rudy-
    Congratulations on the new book! It’s amazing to look through your pictures after all these years. I love your blog, you turned out alright old friend.
    much love to you and the family,
    Allison

  3. Rudy Says:

    Thanks Stephan and Allison! Fond memories of the Lynchburg days, Allison!

  4. Dianne Says:

    Hey Rudy, Nice talk you gave there in Brussels. Pretty good turnout too! Cute kid photo posted! Sweet. Good luck with the selling of your autobiography. You know us redheads go from red hair to white and not red to gray. I haven’t got to the white hair stage yet. Incidentially, you didn’t sound “senile” in your talk, as you were saying you were getting close to. Very well done! Congratulations.

  5. Alex Says:

    I’ve read the already published UK edition and it is an excellent book.
    I posted a 5 star review to Amazon UK. The photos in the book and the extra ones you posted here are amazing. The “1968 Rudy and Sylvia” photo is especially good, you both look like movie stars!

  6. Martin Olson Says:

    Wonderful and congrats. This is what I want to read.


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