Rudy’s Blog

Buy Rudy's books! Click covers for info.                 Blog text and images copyright (C) Rudy Rucker 2014.


June 25th, 2014

*Two new books out in ebook and paperback today!
* Transreal Trilogy and All The Visions.
*Click the cover images below to visit the book pages.

Transreal Trilogy book page.

Transreal Trilogy includes three of my “transreal” novels, that is, SF about my own life.
* The Secret of Life: A 60s college student learns he’s a saucer alien.
* White Light: A hipster math professor travels to the afterworld.
* Saucer Wisdom: A troubled author tries to write about alien abductions.

All The Visions book page.

All the Visions is a short autobiographical novel that I wrote in 1983. Wanting to emulate Jack Kerouac’s composition of On the Road, I typed All the Visions on an 80-foot scroll of paper instead of using separate sheets. The book describes the adventures of Conrad Bunger: mathematician, writer, seeker, rebel, freak.

Browse Transreal Trilogy and All The Visions for free on their book pages.
Buy the books at Transreal Books.

Many thanks to the 170 people who backed this publication project on Kickstarter.
It’s a new world in publishing.
And I’m still rockin’.

The mystery tour is now boarding.


Paintings Sale. The “Tentacles” Show in Monterey.

June 8th, 2014

I’m putting all of my paintings on sale for three weeks, with $150 off the price of every canvas. Such low prices that I almost hate to do it. But I have limited storage space and I keep painting new ones, so some of old guys have got to find new homes. You can find the current prices under the “Buy Paintings” link on my Paintings page.

Meanwhile I finished a new painting this week, Cows on the Run.

“Cows on the Run” oil on canvas, June, 2014, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

This landscape shows the hills above Alum Rock Park in East San Jose. I felt the picture needed something extra, so I went for a saucer and a hungry, starfish-shaped alien. And everyone knows how aliens feel about cows. Even the cows know! I painted the cows a little large for how far away they’re meant to be—but these cows are important, and I wanted to give the viewer a good look at them. They kind of make me laugh.

Those white-flowered plants in the foreground are meant to be a certain plant that you often see in California. For years, I’d though these plants were Queen Anne’s lace, but, on our hike in the hills, a somewhat eccentric, but botanically well-informed, volunteer-ranger-type guy told me these plants are in fact poison hemlock, originally native to Greece (cf. the death of Socrates.) What makes this confusing is that “hemlock” can also mean a type of pine tree.

This weekend we were down in Monterey. We went kayaking from a very handy spot, right in an interesting area of the bay near the aquarium, it’s Adventures by the Sea, at their 299 Cannery Row location. Such clean clear cool water, so many seals and sea otters. Lovely.

And after that we checked out the Tentacles show at the Monterey aquarium. I’ve learned to go there later in the day, like after 2 pm, when most of the school tours have cleared out. We visited with the cephalopods and the jellyfish. Old fictional faves of mine. I’ve worked cuttlefish and/or jellyfish into very many of my novels. They’re about the most alien creatures sharing the planet with us.

By the way, the first time I saw a jellyfish show was in May, 1992, at the Monterey aquarium with Bruce Sterling, and we wrote our classic tale “Big Jelly” about giant jellyfish, you can read it free online.

I do have to say that the quality of the Monterey aquarium experience has gone down over the last twenty years. At this point they seem to be pandering to distractible kids on school tours. Or something.

In the old days, the place was like a quiet cathedral, dimly lit, no distractions, no ceiling-high models, no flashing lights, no horrible ambient music, no braying amplified narration. Just you and the sea creatures.

But now they’ve gone all multimedia on our asses. And the special exhibits don’t have nearly as many actual aquariums as before. I don’t like it. Yes, I’m old.

But they did have a few of my faves there. I liked these “stumpy cuttlefish,” especially set off by a young woman’s manicured hand. We wave our fronds, whoever we be.

And they had an impressive tank of nautiluses, about twenty or thirty of them. I had some giant, man-eating flying nautiluses in The Hollow Earth (pb, ebook, or free CC). Love these guys. Ninety tentacles, baby.

One of the best tanks held some critters that I thought were cuttlefish, as their tentacles are fairly short, and they have those nice, undulating cheerleader-skirt-fins all around their midriffs. We’d seen a couple of these while snorkeling off the north shore of Oahu last year, and we’d been proud and happy to have “seen cuttlefish.” But it turns out these are “big-fin reef squid.” Very good performers in a tank, not cringing, just relaxed and doing their thing.

We did see a tank full of orange-and-white striped “common cuttlefish,” as well, but I didn’t get a good photo of them, maybe because the cuttles teeped into my mind and hypnotized me. They’re very interactive, coming up to the glass and waving their facial squid-bunches of tentacles at you if you wriggle your fingers near the glass. Hail Cthulhu!

I’m kind of thinking of having an undersea cephalopod civilization on our own Earth in my vaguely planned Frek 2 novel…


Frek 2? Recalling Early Glimmers of Frek 1.

June 2nd, 2014

These days I’m caught up by the idea of writing a book aimed at younger readers. I really liked Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema . On my end, I’m starting to think about writing a sequel to my 2004 young reader novel, Frek and the Elixir—you might call that one Frek 1. It was marketed as a regular “adult” SF novel, but the hero was twelve years old, and the material is kid-friendly. I’d like to come back and do a Frek 2 where he’s fourteen.

I’ve been thinking about a Frek sequel for a while. You can find a January, 2008, blog post of mine that includes an an interview on Frek and the Elixir and Postsingular, where I say a bit about this…although some of my thoughts on Frek 2 have changed—and I’ll get into that in some upcoming posts.

For some happy reason a photo of Frek and the Elixir appeared in a Barney’s ad. A high point. The way it happened was, I seem to recall, that the photographer just happened to be reading Frek, and they wanted a shot of the model looking “brainy,” so they gave her lorgnette-type glasses and had her holding the book. No doubt she insisted on taking Frek home and stayed up all night reading it…

Looking back through my book-length writing notes for Frek and the Elixir, online as a free PDF file, I came across an entry I wrote in Tucson on December 15, 2000. This was when I had the first glimmerings of the book that turned out to be Frek.

[===Begin old Journal Excerpt===]

I’m in Tucson to give an after-dinner talk at a conference on genomics, which is the latest word for what we were calling biotech or genetic engineering. Supposedly genomics is to biology as electronics is to electricity. A modern, high-tech spin on an old-school science.

I haven’t been able to locate any of the conference people at the resort, so I pretty much wonder why the f*ck I’m here. My room is in the basement, and I’m down here typing on my laptop.
I keep thinking about On the Road, which I’m rereading this week. I got a copy at City Lights in SF last week. I’d always fondly thought of my novel Secret of Life as being my On the Road, although now, rereading Road, I have to admit I don’t hold a candle to Jack. I did what I did, that’s enough, and I don’t need to go and pretend I did more. My routine of comparing the cyberpunks to the Beats—what a crock.

As I writer, I’m more inner-directed, more self-centered, less generous and less lyrical than Jack. The way he describes the weather and the sky and the sunsets! And, most specifically, my Secret doesn’t have any character like Dean Moriarty—I don’t have a really complex foil for the narrator.

[Rudy with college friend Roger Shatzkin at the W Hotel in NYC.]

So now my clever simian mind turns to thinking about how I might better ape the Master. What if I did an SF novel that set out from the start to be an homage to Road? That might be fun. It could be a picaresque planet-hopping kind of thing. Call the homage novel, say, Galactic Kicks. It could be transreal or I could do it as a pure fabrication. Or a mix. Another plus is that it would be way to do a space-opera thing, which I’ve never yet tried.

My Dean Moriarty character would need to be tragic—Dean’s tragic quality feeds the richness of Road. Over the course of the book, Dean is losing his mind. A desperate downward spiral. But maybe I don’t want to write a book like that. Maybe I’d like a galactic kicks quest that was a little more G-rated and little sunnier.

Anyway, reading another page of Road here in my dismal room, I read this amazing scene about sleeping in a cheap all-night movie theater in Detroit. He says, “The people who were in that all-night movie were the end.” Love that use of “the end.” Jack talks about how the theater’s double bill of movies goes deep into his mind, because he’s seeing and hearing and sleeping through these movies over and over during the night.

All my actions since then have been dictated automatically to my subconscious by this horrible osmotic experience.

What a beautiful line. What a genius to write that. Yes, Jack’s unmatchable. As it happens, Jack himself addresses the issue of trying to model your work on the work of an unmatchable artist. He writes about some musicians trying to play right after the legendary jazz pianist George “God” Shearing has performed.

Everybody listened in awe and fright…and the boys said “There ain’t nothin left after that.”

But the slender leader frowned. “Let’s blow anyway.”

Something would come of it yet. There’s always more, a little further—it never ends. They sought to find new phrases after Shearing’s explorations; they tried hard. They writhed and twisted and blew. Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men’s souls to joy.

Galactic kicks, man, galactic kicks. Two gone wigged cats roistering across the Milky Way in 3001.

What if my hero’s road pal is human-sized alien cuttlefish? My version of Neal Cassady. The cuttlefish looks “demure” just like Kerouac always says about Dean Moriarty. I saw some cuttlefish at the Monterey aquarium the other day, and they did indeed look demure, their bunched tentacles pointing tidily down, their hula-skirts wavering about their middle. Neal Cassady as a cuttlefish, yas. Love it.

[===End old Journal Excerpt===]


Video Page for “Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions”

May 26th, 2014

Hard at work on some mad-scientist-type project in the 1994 AMD chip-fab clean room…

We’re closing in on the conclusion of my Kickstarter project, Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions! Campaign ends on Friday.

Please think about helping me do this thing! It’s not much different from ordering an ebook or a paperback in advance.

As an added-on stretch goal, I’m going digitize some of the old videos from my basement cupboard archives, many of these coming from the time periods when I was writing my transreal SF novels The Secret of Life, White Light, Saucer Wisdom, and when I was writing my beat scroll memoir All the Visions. The idea is to make a nice rich media page to accompany the launch of the Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions project.

One old video I’m particularly eager to revive shows me at an international high-academic psychiatric convention, reading the All the Visions account of a hedonistic 1979 Manhattan day when the famous cinematographer Eddie Marritz and I wandered high in the city, the reading including honks from a squeeze-bulb bicycle horn I brought along. The reading filmed by one and the same E. Marritz using state of the art equipment, a SONY helical scan jobbie.

Another tape I want to get out there shows a series of public access TV shows I made in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1985. One time our dog Arf came on camera with me. The series was called Brain Food, and featured my diffuse reviews of books, authors and artists I happened to be thinking about—including Anselm Hollo, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, Edgar Allen Poe, Steven Levy’s Hackers and Thomas Bass’s The Eudaemonic Pie, Margaret Atwood, and J. G. Ballard. “That was damn good,” one local guy told me in the weeks to come. “Made me laugh. Not like the regular stuff on TV.”

And I’d like to post my educational live-computer-demo videos on Chaos and on Cellular Automata. And the evening when Rudy Jr. and I performed our collaborative story, “Jenna and Me” in San Francisco. And the stage performance of my 3D-Mandelbrot-set play, As Above So Below, in Fort Worth, Texas. And a 1983 video of me reading from Master of Space and Time in Sweetbriar College, near our home in Lynchburg, Virginia. All kinds of footage in the archive, and with a few extra bucks from the Kickstarter, I’ll finally get some of this stuff digitized and online for the historic record.

So kick in something for the final stretch of the Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions campaign and help me make it happen.

If not for me, then for the keen and alert members of the next generation!


Paintings For Four Novels

May 15th, 2014

Yeah, baby. In July I’ll be reprinting three of my SF novels (together in one volume) plus a scrolly Kerouac-like novel All the Visions. Here’s four of my paintings that approximately depic the four novels I’m talking about.

And, as of today, I have enough backers to fund my Kickstarter project, Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions for this! You can essentially pre-order these books now—as rewards via the Kickstarter page.

The Secret of Life

The young hero comes to realize he’s a saucer alien with startling superpowers. And yet he finds love.

White Light

A rogue math professor makes his way to the cosmic, absolute, white light that lies atop a transfinite ladder of cliffs and across a beyond-endless plain. The ultimate road trip.

Saucer Wisdom

Quirky underground author “Rudy Rucker” encounters a saucer abductee who’s seen the future.

All the Visions

A thirtyish 1980s hipster types his memories onto an 85-foot-long scroll.

The New Volumes!

Coming in July.


“Rucker Songs” by Roy Whelden & Karen Clark. “All the Visions” Rant.

May 13th, 2014

In 1994, the composer and musician Roy Whelden made a beautiful album called Like a Passing River. The tracks includes several sections of me reading from All the Visions. Roy mixed my voice with performances by the American Baroque ensemble, and with the singing of soprano Karen Clark. The result is wonderful; it is kind of a transcendentalized operatic version of All the Visions. You can buy the Like a Passing River album, or individual tracks from it, via iTunes, via Amazon, and in other places. Meanwhile, Roy and his music publisher, New Albion Records, have agreed that I can post a few of the tracks from the album as podcasts. You can play the songs without leaving this page, just by clicking on the play bars where they appear in the post below.

Rucker Songs

“Rucker Songs” is the most amazing cut on the album. It’s about my notion of God as a white light, and includes a line I really like, which Karen begins with.

“Oh man we are in heaven, for sure for sure.”

In composing “Rucker Songs,” Roy built a hauntingly lovely operatic oratorio onto on that, followed by a bridge of wondrous sine-wave-humming, leading to a sprachgesang or spoken-song passage including my line, “What’s the point, can’t somebody tell me,” and then goes into my vision of flying “into the light” and reaching a zone with “no space, no time.”

“Give us this day our daily rush, on the nod as thou art in heaven.”

I actually wrote that line. Words to live by. And we get to hear Karen Clark’s great lush opera voice singing it. I’ve always kind of wanted to hear lines like these when I listen to religious songs. Karen caresses and burnishes the words.

I Was At the New Year’s Eve Dance, or, I’m Going To Die

“I Was At the New Year’s Eve Dance,” which might also be called “I’m Going To Die,” is a recording of me reading a passage describing my my teenage realization of the inevitability of death—which took place at a party at the Riverview Valley Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky, 1962.

“It first hit me when I was sixteen: you’re going to die.”

In setting up this song, Roy uses a few bars of “Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts, which fits, as I myself sampled this song in my line: “I know the answer: sometimes I’m happy sometimes I’m blue.”

Surf it, bro.

What’s the Point?

“What’s the Point?” isn’t really a song, it’s more just a recording of my voice, wondering what’s the point of existence—this is near the end of the novel, it comes from the long passage that I’m reprinting below, yes, I’m running the final long passage of All the Visions here. You might want to listen to “Rucker Songs” again after you read it.

By the way, you can also access these three podcast songs via my Feedburner podcast station by clicking the icon below.

As most of you probably know, I’m running a Kickstarter project, Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions. I want to reprint three of my SF novels plus a scrolly Kerouac-like novel All the Visions. You might think of today’s post as providing you with a musical and spoken word material relating to All the Visions, as well as this mammoth reprint of the book’s closing rant:

Final Section of All The Visions

So what’s the point? I mean, it ought to add up to something, shouldn’t it? A guy telling his life story, at length, but it doesn’t really come to anything. Well…I guess I would have been glad to read it, glad to see the footprints in the sands of time, yes, glad to know there was once someone vaguely like me, and will be again, no doubt, we are a hive, us humans, no individual death really matters, like when we were at the beach last year and Conrad Jr. caught a lot of crabs—crabs are so stupid that all you do is lower a fish-head or chicken-neck down in the water and the crab grabs it and won’t let go and you pull up the string and net him and put him in a bucket with the other crabs you caught, unless you haven’t caught any crabs yet, in which case the bucket is empty—and we cooked them for supper, they screamed when I threw them into the boiling water, but screamed so high that it was hard to hear, but not quite so high a scream as lobsters do, we cooked the crabs for supper and poor Conrad started crying, because, you understand, these crabs and him had been out on the dock for several hours, doing a number together, biped catching crustacean, and now the poor crabs were dead, but the consoling factor was that, after all, there are still a whole lot more crabs in the ocean, the race of crab not one whit diminished by these individual deaths,

no man is an island, if you think of it the right way, “no man is an island,” means that in fact an individual death doesn’t matter, it’s the whole thing, the gestalt that matters, so that, as old Bill suggests, our best way for space colonization would be to send out probes full of bacteria or viruses, just so they have that buddy-buddy double-strand of DNA, ribonucleic acid, the genes, if you think about it, the genes are sitting down deep in us—we are in fact big space probes for the genes, we are meat robots that the genes build in order to reproduce themselves, the other form of immortality being, yeah, software backups, but the final is the realization that even these stabs at immortality are relative, try like 10-to-the-30th years from now, man, when most of the protons have broke down, or 10-to-the-100th years away, and, really if you think about it, what difference would it make if the world lasted forever, and would it even matter if you yourself didn’t have to die, oh, it would get too old, but still, something in one’s soul does kind of leap up at the thought of immortality, but it’s a con, we have to learn not to fall for it, not get sucked in, because mortality is an essential part of the human condition,

like in Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon writes about the angels looking down, “all unaware of the dark beauty of the death-sentence we labor under,” the dark beauty, take me now Jesus, well, give me 35 more years, I wanna be 72 when I croak, and I’m past the midpoint, up here in real time real time real time, auughh, it’s not real for you anymore, my time, or for me, it’s ripped back from me by the current, the flow, I’m going to die, oh so what, who cares, it’ll be a relief for sure for sure, though there’s no rush is there , but still…as I thought once, “Death is the only thing that makes life bearable,” I mean how awful it would be to stand forever on a cloud, all stiff, strumming it, listening to hymns, nasty God walking past to pee on the floor, a chance of a peek up the bluesky folds of Mary’s skirt to her skin more whiter than a harp of gold, strum it, baby, there must be some way out of here,

I’m a desperate man, but why bother to be desperate, why do anything when you can groove, though grooving gets so boring, well, not boring, really, it’s the hangovers and the stoneover dissociation that’s hard to take, year after year, “And do your folks say you are a stranger / do your friends think you be too weird / it’s hard to learn to live with so much danger, bay-bih / year after year after year after year,” psycho rant stifflegged dead pig axe cross the stage, making everyone feel better they aren’t up there, scraping it right down to the rind, what’s the point, what’s the fucking point, man, why are you alive, why is there something instead of nothing, what’s the answer, “The answer,” sez Wittgenstein, “is experienced as the vanishing of the questions,” right, I kin dig it, but hey, the questions come back don’t they, you have to come down and make some money, baby, the questions come back later, you get the answer fine,

you fall asleep, you lose it, lose it totally, gag me with a chain-saw, baby, lose it totally and then start scratching your head, showering lice-eggs across the schizo-scenario and wondering why be working so hard just to get a stiff dick soft, get a stomach full, horrible animal functions, the way that if you really really have to take a shit you can’t think of anything else, just kind of crab-scuttle around, do the limbo under the pay-toilet door, find a guy already in there, flub-gubba-geep, go on outside and “lay your load upon the road / when toilets weren’t invented,” all this hassle to keep the system at maintenance level, putting bug spray on yourself, all the work to keep your hair oiled and your butt clean and your fillings in, your socks up, your wounds disinfected and bandaged, your eyesight corrected, your hearing amplified, your behavior modified, reformed-alcoholic radio-evangelist republican-congressman, yes!—your fungus damped, your itch scratched, and the piece of food picked out between those two dancey molars, the brain amused with TV paper book magazine drug cigarette booze coffee frisco-speedball organ-music-piped-in-from-the-catacombs-of-Thoth, the frisson, my dear,

“Give us this day our daily rush, on the nod as thou art in Heaven,” in heaven, oh man we are in heaven for sure for sure…or maybe it’d be better to be in Hell and limp, instead of forever in Heaven with your tremendous aching stiff salute, with God’s horrible bunion feet the size of mountains and you’re in fact standing on them though you don’t realize it, just singing, and feeling the better for it, soothing the itch the flaw the egg the lurking scream the origin of the species, the way Brits are supposed to always say “D” instead of “R,” The Gdeat Pydamids, those guys thought they had something going, one would imagine, those Egyptians mounding up those rocks and sand, Chariots of the Gods????????? naw, the power of the weak, what man can do, Izzy Tuskman used to yell at me, “What man can do,” is, uh, turn other men on, like, “Take this my body which is given for you,” do you think I’ll go to hell for writing that? Oh what’s the point, can’t somebody tell me please, not that I’d listen, I’ve got it all figured out, I tell you, I know the answer and it’s “Sometimes I feel so happy / sometimes I feel so blue,” I mean surf it, bro, hang ten, ho-dad, slide in and out of the reckless wash of snit-snit bubbles, each a galaxy in itself, and what can we ever know of the fish who swim below, just be there, why why, just do this, do that,

as a good “bad-attitude” attitude keep in mind that if enough people believe anything it’s probably wrong, eternally subject to revision, the idea in history, though each time you figure it out you still have to go to sleep and again wake up and again start over—a day is such a very long time, why would anyone want to live forever, throb, the Muse getting in bed with him…throb, he’s up again, out of bed, around the bend agin, over and over, until, if you’re lucky as John Lennon, some mushroom from West Yakshit blows you away, or if you’re lucky as Aldous Huxley, your wife shoots you up with acid, meanwhile JFK croaking on TV in the nurses’ room, and your old lady’s like shooting you up every time your stroke-twitched big wise forever-talking mouth tries to move, uh uh uh, “yes dear, take another hit of chemicals…and fucking die, man, and shut up,” into the light now darling, into the light, go now, go peacefully into the light.

Yeah, baby. Back me if you can. Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions.


“Hungry Bird.” Why Write a Journal or a Blog?

May 9th, 2014

I finished a new painting yesterday, “Hungry Bird.”

“Hungry Bird” oil on canvas, May, 2014, 18” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I like how he’s about to eat a yellow square from the underlying pattern of squares and rectangles. Maybe he’s come into this abstract world from the funky analog world and he’s eating it. I did that background pattern a couple of weeks earlier, and then one morning I saw an article in the paper, with a photo of a hungry baby black-crested night heron. Some bird had been evicted from their nests near Merrit Lake in Oakland.

I saw this nestling on the local TV news last night, doing well, saw him gulp down a whole big fish in one bite. Followed by a yellow square…

[Photo by Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle.]

This week, among other activities, I’ve been looking through my 25-years-long collection, Journals 1990-2014, which I might try publishing next year, like in 2015. I’m in my fourth full revision of the thing, wrestling it down to a more reasonable size, and revising it for better flow. I came across a bloggable entry on the topic of why I would enjoy writing a journal at all. And these reasons could just as well apply to why I blog. I came up with seven reasons.

Identity. After my roles of husband and father, the most essential thing about me is that I am a writer. For me to write is to be myself. When I’m writing, I feel I have a reason to exist.

Companionship. I don’t speak as clearly as I write. And it’s rare that anyone wants to listen to me talk at any great length about my arcane interests. A writing page is a patient conversational partner.

Self-discovery. In writing, I unearth thoughts I didn’t know I had. And then I rewrite, organizing the thoughts into clear patterns.

Social utility. The journal or blog writings can seed commercial works. If people enjoy reading what I write, I’m performing a social good. And I can get money and recognition for this.

Transcendence. I become an observer rather than just a participant. I get out of myself. I see things from a broader perspective. I forget my quotidien worries.

Craftsmanship. I enjoy honing and exercising my craft. Writing a journal or a blog works at multiple levels: choosing the mot juste, building balanced sentences, forming paragraphs that express well-formed thoughts, writing posts or journal entries that have an essay-like cohesion or perhaps a narrative zap, orchestrating the flow of posts or entries into a developmental arc.

Immortality. When I record what I’m thinking and doing, I’m making a temporary barrier against my eventual obliteration by time’s flow. On a more practical level—I tend to forget things, and looking back on my journals or my blog brings back the past.

I’m having some success with my current Kickstarter project: Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions. Many thanks to those of you out there who are backing it.


Rudy’s Blog is powered by WordPress