|Jim and the Flims
This page last updated December 13, 2016.
The Night Shade hardback and Transreal Books paperback are out of print, although a few copies are available second-hand via Amazon. The ebook is on Amazon, or on the Transreal Books page. A new paperback will appear from Night Shade in 2019.
The hardback cover is graced with a painting by Bill Carman.
Summary of Jim and the Flims
Jim and the Flims is a novel set in Santa Cruz, California . . . and in the afterlife.
Jim Oster ruptures the membrane between our world and afterworld (a.k.a. Flimsy), creating a two-way tunnel between them. His wife is killed in the process. And now Jim faces an invasion of the Flims—who resemble blue baboons and flying beets.
Aided by a posse of Santa Cruz surf-punks, Jim plunges into a mad series of adventures in Flimsy—where he just might find his wife. Jim and the Flims is the Orphic myth retold for the 21st century.
Reviews and Blurbs
Jim and the Flims is a wild psychedelic romp that recasts the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the 21st century surf-punk/slacker world of Santa Cruz and its eartly and extra-earthly environs. Hilarious, profound, visionary, and genuinely moving, it vaults to the top spot on my list of favorite Rudy Rucker novels... A key component of Rucker's genius, it seems to me, lies in his ability to tackle his subjects on a multitude of levels simultaneously. There's a fractal beauty to it. If you're just into a weird and funny story, you've got it. If you dig mythic resonance—look no further. If theoretical physics is your bag, Rucker's witty allegories will delight you. Philosopher, Phil Dick fan, armchair theologian: there's something to challenge, satisfy, and delight any alert, intelligent reader.
—Paul Witcover, review in Locus
Jim and the Flims offers Rucker’s delightfully eccentric and transrealist approach to what turns out to be a kind of modern-day Orpheus tale. It’s often silly and lighthearted, but it’s buoyed by the emotional weight of Jim’s quest, and also by the often beautiful and moving view of life and death. And I can guarantee that it’s probably not at all like anything else you’re going to read this summer.
—Karin L. Kross, review in Tor.com
The parallel world kicks in around Santa Cruz's northern city limits, the defining line of the duality, the boundary between order and chaos, truth and fiction, professorial normalcy and freaky chemical mentalbrain stuff, worldly secularity and Egyptian gods, Los Gatos/Silicon Valley and the Continent's edge, life and afterlife. And when the line's porous, the paradox, rather than crumbling, becomes even more pronounced.
—Dan Pulcrano, article in Metro Silicon Valley
Jim and the Flims is a perfect showcase for Rudy Rucker's ability to craft a story that is both totally familiar and absolutely like nothing you've ever read before. ... Rucker's ability to create ordinary characters who must confront the extraordinary makes this book quite accessible to anyone willing to stroll on the beaches of Santa Cruz, check out the weird surfers and take in the gorgeous sunset. ... As Rucker's novel shows us, everyday life is weirder than we think and filled with more hope than we might expect.
—Rick Kleffel, review in The Agony Column
I love Rudy Rucker. The guy is simply incomparable when it comes to writing science fiction, managing to seamlessly blend highly intelligent existential and scientific speculation with wildly satirical and insanely imaginative plotlines... In this novel, Rucker reimagines the myth of Orpheus as only he can – Jim Oster is a former surfer dude, part-time stoner, and current Santa Cruz mailman who dabbles in high-tech research.
—Paul Goat Allen, review on Barnes & Noble Bookclub
Jim and the Flims...Rudy Rucker's weirdest, craziest, colorfulest book yet? That's saying a lot, I know. But when it is at its most bizarre, it is also most hilarious. Nobody else writes like Rudy.
—Marc Laidlaw, author of Kalifornia
Rudy Rucker should be declared a National Treasure of American science fiction.
—William Gibson, author of Zero History
Rucker puts the weird in science. String theory might as well have been invented to give rise to mind-benders like Postsingular.
—Cory Doctorow, author of Makers and For the Win
Rudy Rucker writes like the love child of Philip K. Dick and George Carlin. Brilliant, frantic, conceptual, cosmological... like lucid dreaming, only funny.
—Walter Jon Williams, author of Deep State and Implied Spaces
Everything Rudy Rucker writes make you look at reality a little bit differently.
—Charles Stross, author of Rule 34 and Halting State
(Reviews of Rudy Rucker's Books)
Notes & Blog Posts for Jim and the Flims
Notes for Jim and the Flims, is a freely downloadable 4 Meg PDF file, notesforjimandtheflimsposted.pdf.
Notes for Jim and the Flims is a 217 page single-spaced document containing the working notes for the novel.
The book of notes includes numerous images as well as internal and external links.
And here's a link to a page listing all of my blog posts mentioning Jim and the Flims.
When I'm working on a novel, I often make paintings to help me visualize the upcoming scenes. I made nine paintings while working on Jim and the Flims, and I'll put thumbnails of them here along with comments. Click on any thumbnail to see the image in a larger size. You can also see these images in large format, along with additional information, at my Paintings page.
Acrylic on canvas. 40" by 30". October, 2009.
I trekked down to Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz with my painter friend Vernon and started this one en plein air, getting the composition, and finding some of the colors. Some of the surfers at Four Mile noticed me working on this canvas—and they approved. The Surf Pilgrim in the foreground looks determined. I visualized my character Jim of Jim and the Flims as resembling him. At home, I dialed up the colors to match my memories, which tend to be brighter than reality.
Acrylic on canvas. 20" by 16". February, 2009.
Jim and the Flims is about a man who finds a way to get to an afterworld beside our own reality. And this world is inhabited by the so-called "flims." I wanted to see what they looked like. The straight lines indicate this is a portal zone. I call the menacing beast at the lower right a "yuel." When I was in Louisville in January, 2009, I’d imagined seeing something like this in the woods, with a Tibetan demon look. The other two beings are modeled on what the cartoonist Jim Woodring calls "jivas." Jivas appear, for instance, in his book The Portable Frank. For him they’re a bit like free-floating souls, or paintbrushes. They’re villains in my novel.
The Clone Garden
Acrylic on canvas. 24" by 18". April, 2009.
As I moved forward on Jim and the Flims, I needed to get an image of another world called Flimsy. And this was the picture I came up with. My original inspiration was van Gogh’s painting, The Sower—I started with a man sowing seeds into a field. Two people are greeting him, they just came out of that interdimensional tunnel visible in the house-like structure made of lavender spheres. The kicker is that the sower is casting baby-seeds into the field, and we see human heads—and the head of one green alien growing up.
Acrylic on canvas. 16" by 20". April, 2009.
In painting this geranium I had something extra in mind. My characters in Jim and the Flims were about to make their way to the castle of the Duke of Flimsy. And I had the idea that the castle could look like a giant geranium. Those leaves are thick, you see, with rooms in them, and the flims are buzzing around them like gnats, only too small to see in the painting---but I later came back and painted this again.
Acrylic on canvas. 40" by 30". June, 2009.
In the background we have a giant geranium plant that’s being used as a castle by a race of flying people in Flimsy. In the foreground, Jim's girlfriend is being abducted by an alien who’s taken on the shape of a dinosaur. The sun is a glowing alien being known as a "jiva" and shaped like a beet. On the left is my old dog, Arf. The woman isn't putting up much of a fight in my picture, and this affected the way that I wrote the chapter.
Fractal Skate Posse
Acrylic on canvas. 24" by 18". May, 2010.
I was working with higher-order fractals during the time period when I was writing the "Atum’s Lotus" chapter of Jim and the Flims, and I found a really nice double spiral that came from a cubic Mandelbrot set. I saved off a high-res image of it, and then I decided to do a painting of this fractal, even though it's a quixotic effort to paint an infinitely complex object. Once the painting of the fractal was done to my satisfaction, the image needed pepping up, so I put in five thrill-crazed skaters.
Topology of the Afterworld
Acrylic on canvas. 40" by 30". August, 2009.
This picture has to do with my image of Flimsy, the afterworld that I describe in Jim and the Flims. I wanted to fit an endless world into a finite volume—that is, I wanted Flimsy to fit inside each electron. I turned to M. C. Escher's engraving, Smaller and Smaller I, as an example of how to fit infinity into a nutshell. He has things shrink as they approach the middle. I started with six streams of beings: humans, cuttlefish, dogs, ants, lizards, and birds. And then I filled in the blanks with globby beings designed to fit the extra spaces.
At the Core of the World
Acrylic on canvas. 24" by 18". February, 2010.
I considered calling this painting Unknown Legend as it's not very obvious what the story is here. I painted this is a previsualization of the second-to-last chapter of Jim and the Flims. Those flying beet thingies are called "jivas." The tall figure in back is the goddess of Flimsy, she’s made of mist. And in front, that's my hero Jim and his wife Val. I was, in a way, surprised to see that big jiva appear in my painting, but it worked well in the chapter.
Acrylic on canvas. 16" by 20". February, 2010.
I painted this in the very final stages of Jim and the Flims. In my story, the characters have stolen the ancient gold sarcophagus of the pharaoh Amenhotep. And Amenhotep’s ghost has emerged from the casket in the form of a menacing, unhappy scarab beetle holding an ankh, a crook, and a flail. In my designs of the hieroglyphs on the walls, I was influenced by my daughter Isabel’s graphic novel, Unfurling.
Acknowledgements for Jim and the Flims
The jiva creatures in my novel are directly inspired by the work of Jim Woodring. Woodring’s jivas are seen, for instance, in the story "Frank and the Truth About Plenitude," that appears in his wondrous and profound anthology The Portable Frank. I told Woodring of my plan to put his jivas into my novel and he kindly gave me his blessing.
Over the years I've written a series of four or five surfing SF stories with Marc Laidlaw. In one of them, "Chaos Surfari," Marc introduced a punk character named "Kid Beast" who used underwater microphones to sample the sounds from a tank of cuttlefish and nautiluses. My character Ira copies this move, and, with Marc's approval, I even lifted a few phrases from him.