Postsingular and its sequel, Hylozoic, represent Rucker's return to the cyberpunk style of his classic Ware tetralogy.
Postsingular takes on the question of what will happen after the Singularity—what will happen after computers become as smart as humans and nanotechnology takes on the power of magic?
A mad scientist decides it might be a good idea to create a giant virtual reality simulation that is running a copy of Earth and of most of the people in it. Fine, but in order to create this simulation, the mad scientist plans to grind our planet into a zillion supercomputing nanomachines called nants.
Ultrageek Ond Lutter and his autistic son Chu find a way to block the nants—but then Ond can’t resist infesting Earth with a congenial breed of quantum-computing nanomachines called orphids.
The orphids coat the planet, one or two per square millimeter, and now everyone is on-line all the time, and everything is visible in the orphidnet. Artificial life forms emerge in the orphidnet, and they pyramid together into a superhuman planetary mind. People can mentally access this mind and feel like geniuses—with the catch that when they come down they can’t really remember what they saw. And this new kind of high is addictive.
The lovers Jayjay and Thuy are addicted to planetary mind, but Thuy manages to kick the habit to work on a vast orphidnet-based narrative called a metanovel. Jayjay continues his sessions with the planetary mind in hopes of learning more about science—and this puts a damper on their love affair. But the mad scientist is still machinating to bring back the nants and destroy Earth, and Thuy and Jayjay reunite to save the world.
It helps that Jayjay has figured out how to do teleportation via the orphidnet. And that Thuy has made friends with a giant, ethereal man from a parallel world called the Hibrane. Jayjay helps Thuy teleport to the Hibrane for help. The Hibraners do have a fix for Earth’s problems, but it’s going to be a bigger change than anyone ever imagined. Earth is on the verge of a postdigital age, more postsingular than anyone ever imagined.
Nature will come alive.
"Rudy Rucker should be declared a National Treasure of American Science Fiction. Someone simultaneously channeling Kurt Gödel and Lenny Bruce might start to approximate full-on Ruckerian warp-space, but without the sweet, human, splendidly goofy Rudy-ness at the core of the singularity."
"Rudy Rucker is the most consistently brilliant imagination working in SF today"
"Rudy Rucker never fails to leave me breathless. . . Reading one of his stories is like a reset button on reality: when it's over, the whole universe looks slightly different...and much stranger."
Always willing and able to embrace sf's trendiest themes, Rucker here takes on the volatile field of nanotechnology and the presumed inevitable "singularity" of human and computer unification. In a series of interrelated vignettes, he describes the calamity that befalls nanotech inventor Ond Lutter and his would-be benefactors when Ond unleashes a variety of self-replicating nanobots. In one episode, trillions of microscopic bots, dubbed nants, chew up Mars to create a colossal Dyson Sphere orbiting the sun. When the nants move on to Earth to transform every living being into a virtual-reality doppelganger, Ond saves the day with a nant-busting virus. The real fun begins, however, when Ond "improves" on the nants with apparently benign nanobots, called orphids, that blanket every surface and provide plugged-in users three-dimensional access to every conceivable scrap of knowledge and experience. ... His devoted fans and dazzled newcomers to him will revel in his willingness to push technological extrapolation to its soaring limits.
When it comes to unique voices in science fiction, few can claim to have quite as distinctive a style as Rudy Rucker. Postsingular is packed full of the larger-than-life weirdness that has become his trademark; classic genre tropes and clichés rub shoulders with mathematical theorems and wild technological speculation, delivered in prose that captures the the languid vibe and hippie undercurrents of California. ... Rucker's quick-draw style acts as a sleight-of-hand that allows him to slip some of sf's biggest tropes and ideas beneath the reader's radar, as well as touching some very human character aspects that are often skipped over (or, worse still, rendered tiresome) by the pens of others. Postsingular has all the bells and whistles that only a computing professor could provide, but never at the expense of the story.
Rudy Rucker's new novel Postsingular is pure Rucker: a dope-addled exploration of the way-out fringes of string theory and the quantum universe that distorts the possible into the most improbable contortions... A kick-ass, weird-ass post-cyberpunk novel...This is one of the most fun, strangest, most thought-provoking sf novels I've read.
This book is densely written...yet also captivatingly plotted for sheer narrative verve and laced with plenty of humor and suspense. Walking a tightrope between information overload and thriller action, the book captures the heady zip, zest and buzz of the post-singular milieu, a world where miracles are commonplace but structured logically to provide real challenges, risks and triumphs.
Rucker writes with a hyperactive level of inventiveness that seems to owe bits in equal measure to Lewis Carroll, William Burroughs, and Ray Kurzweil. Rucker can be enormous fun to read, and there are some stunningly bold ideas here.
Any true singularity pretty much by definition has to be so over-the-top that it would stun present-day minds. This is over-the-top as only Rudy Rucker can do it.
It's fast-paced and subversive: nanomachines dismantle all life on Earth and send everyone to a virtual world, and you're still only on page 20. Postsingular turns the singularity, the mythical moment when we all transcend our humanity and become cyberer, into something much weirder and more ambivalent. Just as other cyberfiction is becoming more cautious in its predictions, Rucker takes wilder and wilder leaps into outer possibility.
Postsingular is hugely enjoyable. It's never boring, and never gets bogged down in difficult info-dumps. Rucker's ideas are simple and elegant, despite the complex thinking behind them shown in his working notes. Exotic concepts such as shoons, orhipds, beezie and a universe 1.8 Planck lengths away in another dimension all seem natural and logical without the need for dense scientification to justify them. Highly recommended, and when you're done take a look at the working notes for further insight into Rucker's ideas and inspirations.
Rudy Rucker is well-loved for tons of things, but I am totally in love with his characters. Not since Philip K. Dick has there been an author more able to drill down to what exactly makes us human and expose it for everyone to see. Postsingular—which deals mostly with society’s total, overnight change and the people who get mixed up in it—has an unbelievably awesome, unbelievably human cast of characters, from the dumpy scientist to his autistic genius son, to the street kids who have huge dreams and small ambition. Every word of dialogue is pitch-perfect, and along with a fairly adventurous interdimensional plot, Postsingular is my favorite Rucker book in years.
Access the 2.5 Meg PDF file postsingularnotesposted.pdf, a 300 page document containing the working notes for the book. I have internal and external links working in the document, hooray!
The Writing Notes are a single, portable document that you can readily print of save to your local machine. If the file fails to open for you, this could mean that someone else is currently opening it, and the server is overloaded. Try again another time and then save the file to your local drive so you can peruse it at leisure.
Although you can freely save copies, do keep mind that the document is Copyright (C) Rudy Rucker 2007, and is released under the same Creative Commons Electronic License as the novel itself.
Of course it's better for me if you buy a commercial ebook edition of the book, which is available in ePub, in Kindle, and in the Barnes and Noble Nook format. But I do have free CC versions online, including EPUB, MOBI, HTM, and PDF formats. Generally my versions are going to look better than other CC editions you might find on the web. See my Postsingular CC Download page.
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