Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category


Last Chance for Nine of Rudy’s Transreal Books

[Updated June 25, 2017: The new publisher for the nine backlist novels mentioned in this post will be the Night Shade imprint of Skyhorse Books. Starting this week, print copies of these titles will no longer be produced or sold by Transreal Books. Transreal Books will continue to sell the ebook editions. The new Night Shade print editions will be appearing during the time frame 2018-2019.]

I found a publisher (name soon to be announced) for my latest novel, Million Mile Road Trip. The new publisher is acquiring the print rights for ten of my books in all, that is, rights for Million Mile Road Trip plus rights for nine of my backlist novels, all of which are presently in print via my Transreal Books imprint.

Transreal Books will still be handling the ebook editions for these books, by the way, but my print editions will be redesigned with new covers by the new publisher. And the print Transreal Books editions will no longer be produced.

Sooo, for a short time, that is, about a week, you can still buy the Transreal Books print editions of those nine backlist paperbacks, with designs and covers by Rudy Rucker. And then begins a differently awesome era—with new designs, larger production runs, and more visibility. An exciting change.

But the uniquely styled old Transreal Books print editions of those nine books will be out-of-print collectibles. Get ’em while you can. The clock is running out.

*White Light
*Spacetime Donuts
*The Sex Sphere
*The Secret of Life
*Saucer Wisdom
*Mathematicians in Love
*Jim and the Flims
*Turing & Burroughs
*The Big Aha

Swarthmore 50th Reunion. Louisville Icons.

Sylvia and I just went back east for a week, first hitting my Swarthmore College class of 1967 reunion, then visiting my brother in Louisville. On the way to Swarthmore, we spent a couple of nights in Philadelphia.

Rainy day at the Philadelphia Art Museum. One of the big four or five museums in US, up there with NYC Met, Boston MFA, DC National Gallery.

Odd painting of the Annunciation by the first established African-American academic level artist in the US, Henry Ossawa Tanner. I love that angel on the left, a line of light, very science-fictional. I have aliens like that in my novel The Secret of Life. Rods of light with a crystal at one end.

I’m always a sucker for these statuesque (literally) marble women, with gaze so fraught and far-away.

And I love cases of object after object, like all variations on some concept such as glass vase.

When we got to the Swarthmore reunion my old pal Kenneth Turan was there…he was my roommate Freshman through Junior years. He’s a famous film critic now, for the LA Times and PBS, he has a great voice. I well remember him telling me plots of movies in the dark before we went to sleep.

Sylvia and I located a sturdy tree where I incised our initials RR + SB in something like 1965. Fifty-two years ago. The letters warped by time, fatter, higher off the ground. The passage of time like a dusting of fine snow that somehow heaps up into a drift that covers your house.

We had various class dinners together, here’s Sylvia with our pal Roger Shatzkin, who was not only with us at Swarthmore, but at Rutgers too. The reunion was more touching than I’d imagined, and more relaxed.

Here’s good old Don Marritz with his wife Harriet Barriga. I always like to say that (for me) Don is a comfortable as an old shoe. We do Times cryptic crosswards together via email once a month. No need to prove much of anything to each other…we’re all over seventy years old. Just happy to be alive here together under the snowdrift blanket of time.

We visited my brother Embry, his wife Joanie, and his daughter Siofra in Louisville after Swarthmore. We had a jolly dinner in a restaurant with Joanie’s family. Joanie showed us a trick for folding a napkin into a brassiere / rabbit-ears shape. So here’s neice Siofra and me wearing the ears on our heads.

Siofra has a nice stuffed goose in her house; she claims she bagged it with a shotgun, possible, as Embry is a big hunter. I like the miniature pillars inside her house, built a hundred years ago. Interesting houses in Louisville, all kinds of them, loosely spaced, not so crowded as out here, and not with everything all filled-in and gentrified. A straight-through house with the rooms in a row is called a shotgun house, and if you have a second floor on the back room, it’s a camelback shotgun. Not that Siofra lives in a camelback shotgun. It’s just a phrase I like to say, and hope to work into a story one of these days.

Remnants of past dinner parties.

Dig the jockey and the trainer (I guess) behind him, the kid looking at the jockey, and the woman approaching him. Jockeys are tough little men and women.

We went out to Churchill Downs one day with Embry, his wife Joanie and our friends Lee and Susie Poague. I won about $28 dollars and lost $35, so it was a pretty good day. It wasn’t crowded at the the track, even though it was Memorial Day. Everyone doing other stuff. Kind of odd how a big part of Louisville’s cash inflow derives from that one two-minute-long Derby race once a year.


[Click for larger view.]

Here’s Embry, Sylvia, Susie and Lee in the stands. Embry has a box he rents every year, the box just some metal pipes around some little chairs. But it’s a precious thing to have access too. Going to the track is a little like going to a baseball game, but even less eventful. Mostly it’s about hanging out.

We trekked across the old Big Four (railways) bridge across the Ohio, now retrofitted into a pedestrian/bicycle path. Not especially crowded, fun to be out there, and see one of the frequent two-hundred-yard-long (?) barges pushing by with a tug at one end. There’s some low falls and a set of locks in Louisville, which is kind of why it’s where it is. “Falls City.”

Sylvia and I drove Embry’s Porsche to the big old Cave Hill cemetery and saw Muhammad Ali’s grave and Colonel Harlan Sanders’s grave. You follow a green painted line to get to Ali, and a yellow painted line to get to the Colonel. Sylvia got this exceptionally cool shot of me by the Colonel’s grave. I’m thinking that we’re the big four of Louisville iconography: Colonel Sanders + Muhammad Ali + Hunter Thompson + me. I’m still on the rise, you understand, my rep won’t peak till about 2030.

Speaking of Hunter, turns out they had a Gonzofest in his honor in Louisville this year. And here’s a Gonzoville poster that is, perhaps, connected with the event. Like I say, I’m waiting for Louisville to wake up to the fact that my novels Wetware and The Big Aha are set there.

Speaking of monuments, dig these metal geese attached to a Cave Hill gravestone beneath that wonderful fluffy-cloud Louisville sky.

Meanwhile, far away, a soulless villain schemes against us… But I warn’t frettin about him none this week.

Musing Attractors or How to Write

For my latest painting, I was inspired by piñatas I saw in the Mission district of San Francisco.

I had two smallish canvases, and I decided it would nice to make a diptych. I saturated the backgrounds with two shades you might see on walls in Mexico. You can probably guess who the mean guy is! The elephant and donkey look a bit bemused. And naturally I included my two favorite icons, the flying saucer and the pig. I guess it’s worth mentioning here that my paintings, including this one, are all on sale.

“Piñata Diptych” acrylic on two canvas, May, 2017, Each canvas 18” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I’ve been getting some writing going on my new novel, Return to the Hollow Earth.

At this point I’m trying to stick to projects that, in one way or another, obsess me. But it can take quite awhile to figure out the next one. Eventually there won’t be a next one. The muse won’t show up. I had about a year between finishing my last novel Million Mile Road Trip and starting the new one. Slowly working myself up about it, with some effort, in some ways it’s like self-hypnoisis, getting into a sufficient state of obsession. And you’re wanting to get yourself to stay in there for months and months.

Having fun with the research. Reading about ships rounding Cape Horn. And about sly, speedy opium clippers now repurposed to bringing household goods to San Francisco for the 1850s gold diggers. But it’s slow work.

I’ve been getting outside fairly often. This is the field near the cliff at Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz where I like to go.

Sometimes I think I have a touch of “impostor syndrome.” I can turn that around to help get started. Like telling myself, “You never really were a writer. You don’t in fact know how to write at all. You were faking it all these years.” And so on. And at some point I rebel against that abuse, and start a book just to show…who? That voice in my head.

Speaking of old-time sailing adventure we went to a party on Treasure Island in SF Bay where the host actually buried a “treasure chest” in the sand and supplied shovels so the kids to dig it up. It’s a platonic ideal: the sand-buried chest of goodies. Was great to see.

Here’s one of the treasure-chest clues in a jar on a stump with the new half of Bay Bridge in the background. I’d never properly seen that bridge before, other than driving over it.

As I already mentioned in a recent post, looking at a shape like that stump, I sometimes get the feeling that these gnarly “strange attractor” forms in some sense inhabit our minds as well. For centuries many humans made the mistake of thinking the “real” forms were things like cubes and cylinders and parabolas.

And not quite getting that the true forms didn’t have precise shapes, but they had shapes you got used to and learned to recognize and the world can’t help but make them. The strange attractors. This photo is of a water pipe next to the head waters of Lexington Reservoir near Los Gatos. Dig the zigzag line of manmade stuff with the live water above and the captive water in the pipe. A beautiful spot, full of music mana.

An attractor that’s the shape of a blown rose. Or a hairdo with one too many perms.

Situational attractor, a.k.a. Platonic ideal. Proudly holding a colorful fish that your daddy caught ice-fishing. I spotted this little girl on Fremont Lake in Pinedale, WYO about five years ago, during a “ice fishing derby” and got the shot.

Logico-physical attractor: the mirrored stump in the undulant green teeming-with-microorganisms water. We are the microbes, natch.

My old friend and fellow author Charles Platt turned up at our house the other day, making his way to the Maker Faire. Very comfortable to chat with him. We’re in our 70s now, and still trying to sell our books. It never did get easy for either of us. But we never stopped.

On those same muse-haunted cliffs by the sea again this week with Sylvia along to shoot me waving my cane.

Glad to be writing again. It passes the time, and it’s pleasant to exercise one’s hard-won craft. And when I’m working, it drowns out unwanted chatter in m head re whatever problems or tasks or anxieties I might think I have. Not that it’s so bad to be all socially active and pondering and painting certain kinds of pinatas…but even then you’re wearing the fireprooof suit of divine madness, issued by the muse to the artiste.

Rewriting this post at 11 pm, upping the Dada / Surreal content, inspired by seeing a show “Finding San Jose” by a cellist multimedian called Cellista. It got my head loose, a good thing. Film, ballet, recorded music, in a small space in Japantown here in San Jose. Struggling art, the frail green shoot that cracks the sidewalk.

Time Paradoxes. Hollow Earth Sequel. Gibson’s “The Peripheral.”

These days I’m starting—or thinking of starting—a sequel to my 1990 novel, The Hollow Earth. The sequel might be called, in classic style, Return to the Hollow Earth. For convenience, in my writing notes I refer to the volumes as HE1 and HE2.

The set-up for HE1 was that I found the 1850 manuscript of “The Narrative of Mason Algiers Reynolds of Hardware, Virginia” in the University of Virginia Library. It was written by Mason Reynolds. I edited it and published it as The Hollow Earth in a first edition in 1990, and in a second edition in 2006, with a projected third edition to appear in 2018 along with the HE2 sequel.

The afterword to the second edition includes a useful drawing for orienting yourself. The drawing is in sepia ink on vellum, initialed and hand-dated “M. R. 1852.” In viewing the sketch, understand that it depicts a cross-section of Mason’s Hollow Earth, sliced from pole to pole. The lumpy outer shapes represent the Earth’s crust, partly overlaid with seas. Mason’s Earth has Holes at both poles, and there are several additional holes passing through its seas. The creatures within the Hollow Earth are not drawn to scale.

Running clockwise from the top, features to note are:

The maelstrom at the North Hole. Mason’s dog Arf beneath it. A black god riding a lightstreamer. A gap where an ocean runs through Earth’s crust, with a tiny “fried-egg ship” floating up through it—this corresponds to the hole near Chesapeake Bay. A ballula or giant shellsquid. A second ocean gap, in the vicinity of the Bermuda triangle. A flowerperson (Mason’s soon-to-be wife Seela) on a giant flower. A harpy bird above the inner jungle. The South Hole. A second lightstreamer. Another “blue hole” gap within the sea which is meant to lie, I believe, near Tonga and Fiji. A pair of koladull or shrigs. A third lightstreamer, which leads in towards the center where it meets the fan of a woomo or giant sea cucumber or Great Old One. The center also depicts six Umpteen Seas, another woomo, and the sphere of the Central Anomaly, with MirrorSeas visible within.

In the sequel HE2 we learn that Mason travelled to California in 1950, ended up making a second journey into the Hollow Earth, and—due the time warping qualities of the Anomaly at the center of the Hollow Earth—when he came back our Earth he found himself in, approximately, the year 2050.

I’m doing the time jump in part because there’s such interest in near-future utopias and dystopias these days. Also I want for HE2 to have something majorly different than HE1. In approximately the year 2050, Mason writes his second memoir, Return to the Hollow Earth, or HE2, a volume which Rudy Rucker is going to edit an publish in 2018 or so.

So, okay, the HE2 memoir already exists in MirrorEarth of 2050 that Mason is in. Mason learns of the published volume’s existence after he comes across the published version of HE1, his first memoir. He decides not to read my edition of HE2 before writing it himself. That is, he goes on to write the whole of his HE2 without looking at my published version. This way we water down the creatively vitiating effect of the closed causal loop that I’ll discuss below. And, due to cosmic synchronicity, Mason just so happens to write the same HE2 as the book that already exists because…everything fits. By the way, blindly rewriting an extant book on instinct alone is an idea from a Jorge Luis Borges story, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.”

Once Mason finishes writing his HE2, he decides that he should find a to way to send it to his preferred editor, Rudy Rucker, to publish in (approximately) 2018. How will he send it? Metaphorically, he sends it to me via time-reversed email, à la Gibson’s The Peripheral. But I don’t want a lot of trans-time communication happening in my book. It’s more of a rare one-time event. So I’ll say that there’s a special mechanism by which Mason transmits the book: it’s handed over to me by a Great Old One’s pink tendril.

Here’s another image of the Hollow Earth, this one in color, to help you visualize that.

Let me stress the point that, even though HE2 is already in MirrorEarth’s future with Rudy Rucker listed as editor, Mason and the Great Old Ones feel duty-bound to send his HE2 back to me. In this fashion they stave off a potential “Passive Yes & No Paradox” and convert it to a bascially harmless Closed Causal Loop. Say what?

Well, I see three main kinds of time paradox, with the second two being fairly similar.

1. Closed Causal Loop: A future event produces a past event that produces the future event, and so on. The Free Novel: My future self sends me a copy of a novel I plan to write. So I just publish the document as is. Nobody actually had to write it. It emerged.

2. Active Yes & No: I make a phone call to my past self, even though I have no memory of receiving such a call. Did I make the call? Yes and no. Examples: Ineffectual Warning. I have a bad accident, so the next year I’m motivated to phone my past self and tell him how to avoid the accident.. If I don’t have the accident, I don’t make the call, so I have the accident, and I do make the call. Grandfather Paradox: I take out a hit on my grandfather. If he dies, I don’t order the hit and he lives. If he lives, I order the hit and he dies.

3. Passive Yes & No: I get a phone call from my future self. But later, when it’s time for me to make the call to the past, I don’t do it. Did I get the call? Yes and no. Selfish Gambler. I got a tip on the Kentucky Derby from my future self, and I bet on it, and I won big, but then later I don’t get around to passing that tip to my past self. Welshing Novelist. The same as the Free Novel example, except this time, the future author doesn’t bother to send back the novel to the earlier author. In particular, this is what we’d get if Mason didn’t send HE2 back to me.

The Closed Causal Loop isn’t a vicious paradox, and it generates no logical contradictions. The Yes & No paradoxes, however, do seem to require some kind of resolution. Paradox #2 involves, if you will, a sin of commission on the part of the future agent, which #3 involves a sin of omission by the future agent. These paradoxes are sometimes referred to as Consistency Paradoxes.

The solution most often used by SF authors is that of branching time, as shown below. In the figure, the broad paths are worldlines of possible universes. The worldlines can branch. The dotted arrow-lines are paths of influence from future to past.

The solution to paradox #2 is that A does something to the past, but the action takes place on a branched-out stub of A’s timeline. The solution to paradox #3 is that the agent who caused event B was in a different time branch, so it wasn’t necessary for A to do it.

In the case of Mason not sending back the book, for instance, we’d have to suppose that some good-hearted Mason in a different timeline did send the manuscript into the past of his timeline.

In his recent time-travel novel The Peripheral, William Gibson posits the emergence of a “stub” or fork or alternate timeline for every time a future person “phones” the past. In the image above, I visualize this by showing the stalk of our worldline sending out a stub to meet the incoming signal from the future.

Gibson the allows the future person to continue phoning back to the same stub over and over. It might be more logical to suppose that each successive phone call produces a new sub-stub or sub-sub-stub—as shown on the right. But this would be a conceptual hassle, obfuscating the action of the novel. And, as long as you stuck to the path through the deeper and deeper stubs, the narrative would be the same.

An issue that Gibson doesn’t really get into is whether the world lines and stubs are actively growing while some cosmic meta-time elapses, or whether they might spring into existence fully formed, with the full future and past in place. If the latter, then you would kind of need to have a sub-stub model to make the thing make sense. So probably the former model works better for The Peripheral. And it helps that Bill specifies that the ongoing times of the stub and the main timeline are in synch.

I want to avoid having branching timelines in Return to the Hollow Earth. Yes, I’m working with two Earths: MasonEarth and MirrorEarth (something I’m not getting into in this post). But I don’t want the potential for trillions of time lines. Therefore I’ll limit myself to the closed causal loop paradoxes, and not introduce and Yes & No paradoxes.

For someone sending messages or information to the past, it requires some care to avoid provoking Yes & No paradoxes that require a fork or a multiple timeline. But it’s my feeling that if you tiptoe around gracefully enough, you can contact the past without forking time or provoking a stub. It’s just a matter of being sure to do what already in fact happened. And a matter of being lucky enough that what you want to have happen did in fact already happen.

It could be—at least in my Hollow Earth cosmos—that you’re literally compelled to do the necessary tiptoeing. Particularly if we always have to use a god-like giant-sea-cucumber Great Old One’s tendril to touch the past. We can, I trust, depend on a hyperdimensional Great Old One to have enough finesse to avoid provoking forks—although they will allow closed causal loops.

Let me reiterate that there’s nothing logically contradictory in a closed causal loop. If we think in terms of the universe a spacetime whole that arises all at once, then a closed causal loop is like a knot in the grain. A pleasing natural pattern.

A somewhat relevant remark that Kurt Gödel made to me in the 1970s: “Even if you know the future, this doesn’t meant that you’ll deliberately do the opposite of what you wanted to do.” Here I’d need to recast this to “Even if you can change the past, this doesn’t mean you’ll deliberately change it to something different than what happened. Especially if you like what happened. And you may in fact take measures to ensure that the past happened as you currently believe it to have happened.”

And be sure not to welsh on sending back something good you in fact got from the future way back when—lest you provoke a passive Yes & No.


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