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THE WARE TETRALOGY: Monkey Brain Feast … Southern Style

Updated June 17, 2010. My new book, The Ware Tetralogy is in print!

I originally created this post after revising the early proofs of this Prime Books omnibus, The Ware Tetralogy—consisting of my four novels Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware—we’re talking about some 750 pages of phreakadelic cyberpunk goodness here.

I was copy-editing the proofs for next two weeks—they were put together from optical-character-recognition scans of the decades old originals, and the work takes a little care. The tome becomes available in mid June, 2010, dropping from the sky like an engraved plutonium tablet from a low-flying saucer.

Today, just for kicks, here’s a reprint of the classic brain-eating scene from Software, somewhat abridged, Copyright Rudy Rucker (c) 2010.

And, as an extra, I’m also including a podcast of me reading this brain-eating scene from Software, as well as Sta-Hi Mooney’s introduction to the drug merge in Wetware. Click on the icon below to access the podcast via Rudy Rucker Podcasts.

Read on for the brain-eating scene…

[The original Ace cover, and the Avon reprint cover.]

Sta-Hi opened his eyes. His body seemed to have disappeared. He was just a head resting on a round red table. People looking at him. Greasers. And the chick he’d been with last . . .

“Are you awake?” she said with brittle sweetness. She had a black eye.

One of the men at the table shifted in his chair. He wore mirror-shades and had short hair. He had his shirt off. It seemed like another hot day.

The man’s foot scuffed Sta-Hi’s shin. So Sta-Hi had a body after all. It was just that his body was tied up under the table and his head was sticking out through a hole in the table-top. The table was split and had hinges on one side, and a hook-and-eye on the other.

“Y’all want some killah-weed?” drawled one of the men. He had a pimp mustache and a pockmarked face. He wore a chromed tire-chain around his neck with his name in big letters. BERDOO. Also hanging from the chain was a little mesh pouch full of hand-rolled cigarettes.

“Not me,” Sta-Hi said. “I’m high on life.” No one laughed.

[Covers for the British Penguin and Roc editions.]

The big man with no shirt came back across the room. He held five cheap steel spoons. “We really gonna do it, Phil?” the girl with green hair asked him. “We really gonna do it?”

Berdoo passed a krystal-joint to his neighbor, a bald man with half his teeth missing. Exactly half the teeth gone, so that one side of the face was flaccid and caved in, while the other was still fresh and beefy. He took a long hit and picked up the machine that was lying on the table.

“Take the lid off, Haf’N’Haf,” the woman with the black eye urged. “Open the bastard up.”

“We really gonna do it!” the green-haired girl exclaimed, and giggled shrilly. “I ain’t never ate no live brain before!”

“It’s a stuzzy high, Rainbow,” Phil told her. With his fat and his short hair he looked stupid, but his way of speaking was precise and confident. He seemed to be the leader. “This ought to be a good brain, too. Full of chemicals, I imagine.”

[Cover of the Japanese edition.]

Haf’N’Haf seemed to be having some trouble starting the little cutting machine up. It was a variable heat-blade. They were going to cut off the top of Sta-Hi’s skull and eat his brain with those cheap steel spoons. He would be able to watch them . . . at first.

Someone started screaming. Someone tried to stand up, but he was tied too tightly. The variable blade was on now, set at one centimeter. The thickness of the skull.

Sta-Hi threw his head back and forth wildly as Haf’N’Haf leaned towards him. There was no way to read the ruined face’s expression.

“Hold still, damn you!” the woman with the black eye shouted. “It’s no good if we have to knock you out!”

[Covers of the German and Italian editions.]

Sta-Hi didn’t really hear her. His mind had temporarily . . . snapped. He just kept screaming and thrashing his head around. The sound of his shrill voice was like a lattice around him. He tried to weave the lattice thicker.

The little pimp with the tire-chain went and got a towel from the bathroom. He wedged it around Sta-Hi’s neck and under his chin to keep the head steady. Sta-Hi screamed louder, higher.

“Stuff his mayouth,” the green-haired girl cried. “He’s yellin and all.”

“No,” Phil said. “The noise is like . . . part of the trip. Wave with it, baby. The Chinese used to do this to monkeys. It’s so wiggly when you spoon out the speech-centers and the guy’s tongue stops moving. Just all at—” He stopped and the flesh of his face moved in a smile.

Haf’N’Haf leaned forward again. There was a slight smell of singed flesh as the heat-blade dug in over Sta-Hi’s right eyebrow. Attracted by the food smell, the little poodle came stiffly trotting across the room. It tried to hop over the heat-blade’s electric cord, but didn’t quite make it. The plug popped out of the wall.

Haf’N’Haf uttered a muffled, lisping exclamation.

[Covers of the Finnish and Spanish editions.]

“He says git the dog outta here,” Berdoo interpreted. “He don’t think hit’s sanitary with no dawg in here.”

Sta-Hi threw himself upward again, before Haf’N’Haf could get the heat-blade restarted. Anything for time, no matter how pointless. But the vibrating of the table had knocked open the little hook-and-eye latch. The two halves of the table yawned open, and Sta-Hi fell over onto the floor.

His feet were tied together and his hands were tied behind his back. He had time to notice that the people at the table were wearing brightly colored sneakers with alphabets around the edges. The Little Kidders. He’d always thought the newscasters had made them up.

Someone was hammering at the door, harder and harder. Five pairs of kids’ sneakers scampered out of the room. Sta-Hi heard a window open, and then the door splintered. More feet. Shiny black lace-up shoes. Cop shoes.

5 Responses to “THE WARE TETRALOGY: Monkey Brain Feast … Southern Style”

  1. Lee Says:

    Nice collection. It’s really interesting to see what the various publishers did. I especially liked the Japanese one. It cracks me up that they went so whimsical with it.

  2. Jan Says:


    I have always enjoyed looking at old SF covers. Your mini collection is great! And I also like the Japanese cover. You know, I have been reading SF for over 50 years, and don’t remember coming across Rudy Rucker! How can this be? Maybe in the foggy past I read something like the brain-eating scene and thought “oh, ICK” and forever blocked you out of my mind. Then I followed a serendipitous link in a blog and you blasted into my existence. Today I experience this scene as hilarious. That shows what life can do to youth’s tender psyches. Well, the rural youth of the 40’s tender psyches. The scene may still be oooh gross, but the writing is extraordinary. I savor your attention to detail which is marvelously funny. And when the deus ex machina takes the form of a klutzy poodle? Superb. My morning is brightened. Thank you thank you. I can’t wait for the four-in-one comes out so I can see THAT cover.

  3. Rudy Says:

    So today, April 18, 2010, I finished correcting and (lightly) revising Software and Wetware. Now to tackle Freeware and Realware.
    Meanwhile, a couple of relevant links:
    Here’s my post “Software in Hollywood,” about my experiences while they were almost making Software into a movie.
    And here’s my post, “What is Wetware?” dealing with the meaning of the word “wetware,” and also presenting a collection of the covers for various editions of my novel Wetware.

  4. The Necromancer Says:

    Classic covers of a classic sci-fi novel. I hardly imagine writing a complete short story these days, let alone a cyberpunk classic. Must be nice. Such a lovely and bizarre array of depictions of the imagery you invoked up on the Moon…

  5. tam Says:

    Are there any plans to podcast Software?

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