Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category

Bottom of the Year

Here I am on January 1, 2017. Such a futuristic 21st Century date. I’m glad I’ve made it this far. 70 years old now. Insane. The future isn’t exactly what I expected. I’m glad there’s still no flying cars. Can you imagine the noise, with those suckers flying over your house? And I’m still stunned by the power of smart phones + the web. A universal library in your pocket.

Today I’ll just post my accumulated photos from the past month with comments, running them (approximately) from the more recent to the older ones. Themes will emerge.

Sylvia shot this yesterday, me with daughter Isabel at the Cirque du Soleil in San Francisco. A great show, very warm and human-scale, lots of singing, dancing, and clowning along with the acrobatics. At one point they used a new tech gimmick I’d never seen—kind of a line printer that uses falling water.

Here’s a photo of an instant when the water had been selectively turned on and off to make the silhouteet of a wind-up key like you’d use for an old spring-based toy. A wall of falling water with gaps in the water made by the hundred or so nozzles dripping the water at the top…the nozzles turning on and off. Like a dot-matrix line printer, only the dots are falling drops of water and the paper is the 100 foot gap between the nozzles and the stage. In this image all the nozzles have been off for a second so there’s a big blank gap above the key.

Day before yesterday we were at good old Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz. Some good waves out there. Two satisfied surfers going home. I’m reading a very interesting surf memoir called Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan. Marc Laidlaw gave it to me on ebook.

Marc and I completed a new Zep & Del surfing SF story this month and sold it to Sheila Williams at Asimov’s SF. It’ll come out sometime this spring or summer, I assume. The story title is “@lantis,” Marc’s clever pun expressing the fact that the story is about a computer biz guy who wants to rip off the lost kingdom of Atlantis.

My computer has two RAID hard drives which cover me in case one of the hard drives dies. And that happened a couple of weeks ago but, oddly, it took me a couple of days to realize that was what had happened, as the computer was still almost, sort of working, most of the time—so I spent a lot of time under my desk, butt in the air, sweating it. So nice when everything starts working again. Like recovering from a brain disease.

Apropos of that, here’s an amusing shot of me playing mad scientist with an offbeat art installation I saw with Greg Benford in the Cantor Museum at Stanford about ten years ago. Greg took the picture with my camera.

I found a drawing on my son’s living-room floor and one of his fourth-grade daughters told me (somewhat loftily) that it was by a first-grade friend of theirs. I liked the composition.

“Red Scribble” acrylic on canvas, June, 2016, 16” x 20”.

So I copied it, sort of, for a small painting. Very, very hard to draw like a child.

Sylvia got some narcissus bulbs going. I recall the title of, and (just now) look up, a Dylan Thomas poem: “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” Wild poem, hard to understand. I’ve been reading a complete collection of Dylan Thomas’s stories—inspired to get the book by hearing some phrases from “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” at a Christmas show we saw. His stories are much simpler than his poems.

I love that little alabaster dancer statue too. Translucent.

I started thinking about the brand name Clabber Girl, for a type of baking powder. Baking powder is kind of like baking soda, but it has some acidic thing in it so that it doesn’t give a bitter taste (as you’ll find in a badly made scone). At one time they used clabber (which is a type of curdled milk) to mollify the baking soda. But…to call someone Clabber Girl? So weird. I got obsessed with that name and used it for a hardbitten punk character in a short story called “Fat Stream.” Sent it off to an online zine.

We were in Cruz another time this month, went by the arcade at the Boardwalk amusement park and out on the pier.

Nothing so romantic and photogenic as an amusement park in winter.

The great empty arcade with the plump Egyptian-style columns, nice and Deco. California sun.

The sea lions nap under the pier, love how this guy (gal?) has his/her flippers tucked tight against the bod for max warmth. Investing a fifth of your body weight into subcutaneous fat is a good move if you’re gonna swim in that full-body-ice-cream-headache water.

Three of my Brooks Brothers shirts in the sun, a satisfying sight, old wastrel prep that I am.

Here’s a young elf of my acquaintance vanishing into the subdimensions.

Which reminds me of the very first story in the Flurb online zine that I edited for a few years starting in 2006. “Elves of the Subdimensions” by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo. A timeless work of art. For some odd reason Paul and I couldn’t place this in a commercial SF zine. Maybe it was that one of the characters had, if memory serves, sex with a squirrel?

A shot from the Santa Cruz arcade. Love that old-school stuff. The engine of a UFO.

And me with the UFO itself. Laidlaw thought the name on the device was “Spacef*ckers” but someone else deciphered it as “Safecrackers.”

Nice curves of light.

Potted plant with flat leaves. A photo like this needs to be at an angle or it’s dull.

Rudy’s-eye holiday minutiae. Joy.

Chartreuse lichen.

Legs at Anne & Mark’s Art Party in San Jose a couple of months back.

Great neon art from Anne and Mark’s Art Party. I always dreamed of being a neon artist, but I never got there.

But I did learn to paint. I have a buttload of paintings in my stash now, and for a short time, I’ve cut all the prices by an extra $100, hoping to sell some, down here at the bottom of the year. Check ’em out at my Paintings page. I made a nice new catalog too.

Happy 2017!

My Top 15 Pages

Recently I started using some tools to see which pages on my site are most popular “landing pages,” that is, the pages that the most people visit first. So today, for lack of a better topic to blog about, I thought I’d list my top fifteen landing pages and, as usual, stick in some photos—some taken from the pages, and some just random recent images I have.

#1. Complete Stories is my top landing page. It’s a simple site, one big webpage, containing all of my stories from 1974 through 2016, a trove of gnarl and wonder. Every year or so I add the latest ones.

#2. Free Books by Rudy Rucker is always one of my most visited pages. It’s where you can get a range of my pop science, science fiction, and nonfiction books—some as free ebooks, and some as freely readable online webpages. My goals in putting more and more of my work online are…what? Why does there have to be a goal? I just like doing it. I like the idea of being read more widely. And, okay, it gives me a type of informational immortality to have my rants and ruminations be popping up in web search results forever. And, at the more futuristic end, having a buttload of my writing online will make it more feasible for future generations to create convincing software simulacra of me. One of those lifeboxes I’m always talking about. I’m not sure why I should actually care about having a lifebox of me—but I do.

#3. How to make an ebook! People want to know how. I try to make as simple as possible, and it’s getting easier all the time. I revised this page quite a bit in December, 2016, updating it, and adding a link to a section on using InDesign in your ebook workflow.

#4. The Transreal Cyberpunkpage, is for a nine-story antho of my stories I wrote with the august and sinister Bruce Sterling. A popular link off this page is the complete set of audio files for the nine stories, about half read by my and half by Chairman Bruce.

#5. Memories of Kurt Gödel. My account of my 1970s meetings with the king of logicians, one of the most intellectually powerful humans who ever lived. Includes a link to my handwritten notes on the meetings.

#6. Comparing Writing and Painting. It’s hard to write and it’s hard to paint. Or maybe it’s easy. Or maybe one is hard and the other easy. Comparing them is useful when you’re trying to start doing either one of them. Or to keep on doing.

#7. Four Dimensional Portals to Other Worlds. Everyone wants a magic door to a different world. It’s a classic image in both fantasy and SF. And it’s a very useful plot device for a writer.

#8. Excerpts of William Burroughs The Western Lands. The great Master. I was studying him a lot when I was writing my curiously neglected novel Turing & Burroughs. I mean why don’t people want to read about Alan Turing and William Burroughs turning into giant slugs and dangling from Bill’s boyhood bedroom ceiling, twining around each other to have sex? But I digress. I can but follow the Master at a respectful distance.

#9. What is Wetware? Listen to me on this topic, I oughtta know, author of Wetware and ex computer science prof that I am. Features covers of most of the editions of my novel Wetware.

#10. Gary Winogrand, and Shooting with a Wideangle Lens. No idea why this page is so popular. The St. Petersburg bots like it? “Da, Vinogrand.” Well, no, I guess it’s popular because it has some good links relating to street photography. And I got some good shots by putting a Leica wideangle lens onto my Canon SRL. I should do that again. The Leica glass gives the images such a lovely, creamy-smooth quality.

#11. Rule 34 and The Nature of Mind Rule 34 says that no matter what something is, someone has posted porn involving it online. Starting from this factoid from the writings of his serene majesty Charles Stross, I work my way to a full theory of the nature of consciousness.

#12. Micronesia #11: Kayaking Rock Islands of Palau. Universal Automatism. One of a series of posts about an epic dive trip I took to Micronesia with my brother in 2005. Certainly one of the greatest journeys of my life. You can flip forward or back from this particular post for more Micronesia and Palau.

#13. New Zealand Part 3. Ta Moko. Another post from trip journals…this trip to New Zealand, where I got interested in the Maori “ta moko” facial tattoos-and-scarring. We visited a museum with some amazing paintings of ta moko by a guy called Goldie. I got a lot of feedback about this post.

#14. Against Recurrence #3. You are Infinite. Endless Worlds. I got into this issue of whether or not an infinite universe needs to contain every possible variation of Earth. And I did three posts about it. Some good SF ideas in here that I still haven’t exploited.

#15.What Is A Chaldron? A diffuse but rewarding post that discusses a hole in the plot of Jonathan Lethem’s novel Chronic City , and drifts into thoughts on virtual reality. Plus info on various downloadable gnarly graphics programs of mine. Includes great photos of our non-gone world.

Infinity & 4D & Gnarl Books. @lantis. T-giving.

Onward into the future. Focusing on my family, my writing, and my art these days.

“Welcome to Infinity” pen and colored pencil on paper, 1972, 9” x 11”. Click for a larger version of the drawing.

I made a big push and put some more of my books online. Three of my big science books in particular. I’m posting them in full as free webpages you can read online. If you want more convenient ebook or paperback editions of the books, I’d prefer for you to buy those.

Two reasons to post books as webpages: (i) people can read them and they can stay live forever, (ii) web search algorithms will turn up hits to the text in them and they can be part of the internet hive mind. And each of these posted book pages contains links for you to buy them from their publishers—or you can find them on, for instance, Amazon.

The first of the three science books is my 1982 work Infinity and the Mind , currently in print as paperback and ebook from Princeton University Press. The book is based on what I learned by getting a Ph. D. in set theory, meeting Kurt Gödel, and by having a deep interest in mysticism. The drawing above, done in 1972, reflects my state of mind at the start of the decade that led to the book. I was passionately in love with underground cartoons, and I had a set of Rapidograph pens and a box of colored pencils. I liked to smoke a little pot and start drawing. The image above shows, if you will, the spirit of Infinity coming down the rainbow road to paradise, hand out, greeting me, with a weird-ass floppy mouth, and with math symbols wafting out of his brain. The upper right is a flash I had about a walking along a fence and having the boards change in appearance from wood…to screaming skull.

“Necker Cube Man” pen and watercolor on paper, 1982, 7” x 4”. Click for a larger version of the drawing.

The second of my browsable science books is my 1984 book, The Fourth Dimension, currently in print as paperback and ebook from Dover Publications. I wrote this book fairly rapidly at the start of a four-year stretch as a full-time freelance writer in Lynchburg, Virginia. I was 37 when I finished the book, but I’d been thinking about the fourth dimension even since I first heard about it in SF stories and in Abbott’s classic Flatland as a teenager. I’m fortunate to own the cover art, a gift from the book’s illustrator David Povilaitis. It’s a fairly amazing image—a guy hurrying through a “Necker cube” construction, that is, a shape which keeps flipping between one orientation and the other.

The Riviera, 40” by 30”, August, 2010. Oil on canvas. Click here to see larger image.

And the third of my browsable pop science tomes is The Lifebox, The Seashell, and the Soul, in new paperback and ebook editions from my Transreal Books. I already talked about this one in a blog post , two weeks ago. The image above is my painting “The Riviera,” which shows a robot dancing with a woman. Me and my wife, or me and my muse, or the lifebox and the soul.

And while getting these three pop-science pages up, I generally reorganized the look and links of my Free Books page.

“Tourists from Atlantis” acrylic on canvas, October, 2016, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Yesterday my seasoned collaborator Marc Laidlaw and I finished work on a Zep & Del Surfin’ SF story called “@lantis.” It’s our sixth surf-related story together, and five of them star Zep and Del, who are in some ways, transreal analogs of me and Marc. We got started on the story when I saw Marc in Kauai this summer. I was thinking it would be fun to have Atlantis in the story—such a vintage SF theme—and Marc had the idea of having a villainous social media billionaire who wants to develop some Atlantis products under the catchy web-logo-type name @lantis. One of those ideas that’s so duh that it’s smart. Not so easy to come up with ideas like that.

For initial inspiration I did a painting of some Atlantean characters who to some extent resemble fish. The guy on the upper left is Mr. Humu, who’s working with a Honolulu gang called the Manga Cuties. I’ll let you know when the story eventually gets published. It was fun to be writing again. With my Million Mile Road Trip waiting for some publishers to look at it, I’m at loose ends.

And what else is new? We had Thanksgiving with son Rudy, his family, and about a hundred assorted hipsters Rudy’s age, with plenty of kids included. A potluck, a classic Thanksgiving scene. In this mellow shot, I guess he’s the native and I’m the pilgrim.

They rented the “Slovenian Hall” on Vermont St. off Rt. 101 in SF, a nice big space, slightly timeworn, but with a classic look. Big mural of the Slovenian countryside above the bar. And, yes, we thought of Melania T.

As I like to do, I got into photographing some of the odd shapes. Like these chandeliers.

And an electric pole seen through a high window with aged, wobbly glass.

And the hand of a first-grade girl busy with colored scraps.

And a new friend clowning in a flag-painted hippie-van that one of the guests arrived in. So San Francisco. ‘Sup, she said.

One day I went hiking in the woods above our house and managed to get (slightly) lost, which is something I really enjoy. Cool fallen trunk with bark beetle tracks etched into.

And a great floppy yellow shroom.

Daughter Isabel mailed us this imposing shot of a plinth of snow on her doghouse roof in Pinedale, Wyoming. We’re lucky to have such mild winters in California. Sunny today. I might go out and paint in the back yard.

One last shot. A guy with a motorized remote-controlled land shark he outlined with so-called “luminous wire,” which is a new thing, you can look it up. I’m sorry, but now I forget his name. He was at Anne & Mark’s Art Party around October 1, 2016, a wonderfully cool scene for good old San Jose.

See ya later.

Trumpic. Supermoon. Repub LIFEBOX.

Like a lot of us, I’ve been in shock since the election. Feeling drifty and at loose ends. Waiting for the hammer to drop. In a cell on death row. How to deal?

“I Like Purple” acrylic on canvas September, 2016, 40” x 30”. I made this painting on comission for our friends Susie & Lee Poague. Susie’s only instructions were, “I like purple.” Looks kind of theatrical. I went to the art store to buy three extra tubes of random purple shades. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Sylvia and I were at the opera in San Francisco on election night, seeing Aida. At intermission I went to the NY Times app on my phone to see how things were going. All week, Hillary’s chances of winning had been around 90%. Now suddenly Trump’s chances of winning were 98% WTF?

I literally couldn’t believe it. I left the web site, looked at some others, same news. I had this horrible wrenching feeling—as if I, and all my friends and loved ones, and everyone else as well—as if all of us were on a nasty low-probability time-branch that had stemmed off from the main line. And there’s no going back.

Like we’ve suffered the hideous attack of the flying saucers. Only—saucers are kind of interesting. Not banal.

Every morning I wake up, feeling reasonably happy—and then it hits me again. I’m trying to dial down on my newspaper and TV and news apps, a media diet, but it’s hard not to creep back for another dose of adrenaline and nausea. It helps if I get deeply into a creative project—like a painting or a story. Or, failing that, into some intricate web-site/self-publishing hacking.

“Californians Request Secession” acrylic on photo on particle board, November, 2016, 30” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Here’s a painting I did the day after the election. It’s short title is “Californians Request Secession,” and its long title is “November 9, 2016: Californians Request Secession from the Trumpic States of America.” The little saucer guys with cubical heads are Californians, you understand. I made their heads be cubes because (a) cubes are easy to paint, and (b) I feel like I’ve got my head inside a media box these days.

To make the painting, I used a big piece of masonite from a local history museum. They had a historic photo laminated onto the masonite, a scene of a work crew building a road up Mount Hamilton near San Jose, CA. So I thinned down my acrylic paints with medium and with water, and painted right over the photo. And then I did two more layers, making the important parts pop out. By the way, you can always get more info about my paintings at

We had dinner with three younger Silicon Valley couples, all of them engineers, working for Apple and Cisco. And they were all starting to joke about Trump. It felt good to joke. Like the way I used to hear Sylvia’s Hungarian relatives talk about the Russian occupation back in the 70s.

“Saucer Attack” acrylic on canvas August, 2016, 40” x 30”. This is a scene I’ve always wanted to paint. I’ve seen it in Zap comix, and on the cover of a Firesign Theater album. In the Zap version, one of the people is thinking, “I always hoped I wouldn’t be here for this.” Click for a larger version of the painting.

Galileo, in a letter to fellow astronomer Kepler, on the subject of advocating the heliocentric theory to the powers that be. “My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the ass, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?”

I came across an incredible five minute movie, by a Uruguayan director, produced in Mexico, about Trump and El Muro…funny, desperate, human, and a bit SF like. Best thing I’ve seen since the election. Bears watching twice. “M.A.M.O.N.” by Ale Damiani.

On Supermoon Monday, Sylvia and I went to look at the 4:10pm ultra-low tide at Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz on Rt. 1, and walked way out in the late afternoon. So fabulous. An uncovered world, a new kingdom. I made it out to a rocky point that’s usually hard to get to with all the water, and stood up there, in the air so fresh, with about twenty Santa Cruz sea-dog surfers down there doing their thing.

So many good photos to spot. My camera is always good company. Recently, at Eddie Marritz’s urging, I set my trusty Fujifilm X100T to “silent mode,” do it doesn’t click when I press the button. “What will that do for me?” I asked Eddie. Eddie just smiled in his space-ranger way and gently said, “Try it. See what happens.” And I do like it without the click. The click was…breaking my merged-in contact with the one true reality.

Dig how that rock looks like a piece of cheese.

Another change in my shooting is that I that I’ve started using manual focus. For one thing it speeds up the shot—I don’t have to wait for the autofocus to figure things out. Also I get to pick what exact part of the scene I want to focus on. Yet another change I that I now allow the auto ISO setting to run all the way up to 32000, insanely high, but that means I’m not going to be getting motion blur as often.

This shot is up on a rocky point at the right end of Four Mile Beach, it’s a little hard to climb up there and, potentially, a wave could sweep over the point. So wild and isolated, I love it. That outcrop on the right looks kind of like a tiki god, doesn’t it? With the two boulder eyes. Great reflection of the sky on that puddle. A launchpad feeling on that point, with the insane untamed energy of the waves right there. Surfers often jump in from here.

We stayed till it was getting dark, around 5, and went another five miles north to the Davenport Bakery, a roadhouse in bucolic hippie tiny town on a monstrously high sea-side bluff cliff. The place is a bar with a about eight tables, plus a baked goods counter. Locals, just folks. They had a country hippie bluegrass band—a pickup group of old hippies—they played “Willin'” by Little Feat, and we in the audience were singing along the choruses. “Give me weed, whites, and wine / and I’ll be willin / to be movin.” And the itinerary: “From Tucson to Tucumcari, from Tehachapi to Tonopah.”

I said to Sylvia, “No matter what Trump does, this is still going to be here. California is safe. We’re not going to change.”

Meanwhile I’ve republished my classic nonfiction tome The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul. You can but it off the book’s home page in paperback or ebook. Or you can read the whole damn thing as a free webpage, very attractively formatted, complete with about 150 illos (mostly drawn by daughter Isabel), about twenty tables, and some 150 footnotes…it’s one big long page, you scroll down through it, or jump via the Table of Contents links.

The book has a long subtitle that summarizes what’s in it. What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About
Ultimate Reality, The Meaning of Life, And How to Be Happy.
It’s organized into six chapters, a “stairway to heaven” like Isabel drew.

It’s fun inside the LIFEBOX maze of thought. The logic is correct, and the conclusions are startling. The thing is, thinking very precisely about the nature of computation leads to a cornucopia of philosophical insights.

Simple rules can generate gnarly patterns. Physics obeys laws, but the outcomes aren’t predictable. Free will works because you can’t think fast enough to know what you’ll do. Your jumps of consciousness are like the measurements in quantum mechanics. My books earn so much less than Stephen King’s because of universal scaling laws. It may well be that we live in one of the best realities that can actually exist. It’s all there! Seriously.

My tome culminates with a proof of the Principle of Natural Undecidability which, come to think of it, I posted about in this blog before, back in 2012. The Principle says there can never be a simple trick for answering all possible questions about our world’s natural processes. No magic spell. No final formula. We live, in other words, amid splendor beyond our control. Who would will it otherwise?

So where does all this leave me? An internal exile. An expatriate, yet still inside the physical USA. A “traitor.” No worse than the ‘Nam war years, really. In a backhand kind of way, the coming waves of repression may even help the counterculture. And the White Light will always be there for us.

No matter what we look like.

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