The Sex Sphere, by Rudy Rucker


The Sex Sphere
Paperback: Night Shade Books, September, 2019, 4th Edtion, with introduction by Annalee Newitz.
Ebook: Transreal Books, 2016, 3rd Edition.
288 pages. Paperback ISBN: 978-1-94910-202-4

Paperback: Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Ebook: Amazon or Transreal Books.

See Rucker's other nine Night Shade books.


A disaffected young physicist takes a vacation in Florence with his wife. And he gets kidnapped by terrorists. It’s not just that they’re building an atomic bomb—they have a weird, four-dimensional creature who happens to resemble, well, a naked woman. A-bomb + slacker prof + sexy hypersphere = Cyberpunk extravaganza! A transreal, outrageous, weirdly comic tale of true love and nuclear terrorism.


Alien invaders tend to squirt acid, go invisible, or drive humongous ships. Not the ones in Rudy Rucker's 1980s classic The Sex Sphere, where an alien named Babs and her crew take the form of disembodied sex organs that attach to human hosts... Only trip-tastic writer Rucker could imagine such a scenario. The best part is that Rucker, a mathematics professor, opens the book with a whole introduction on the fourth dimension and how it works. The aliens, you see, are trying to return to this dimension... If you like your science fiction to contain hard science mixed with bizarro humor, don't miss The Sex Sphere.
—Annalee Newitz, io9

You cannot know where modern science fiction has gotten to unless you are familiar with Rucker’s work.
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

From the Author

As well as being an ultimate 1980s novel, The Sex Sphere is what I call a transreal novel, that is, it’s a fantastical elaboration upon my actual real-life experiences. In this case, the autobiographical core is that my family and I lived in Heidelberg, Germany, during the years 1978-1980, where I had a grant to do mathematical research on the nature of infinity. And we made a trip to Rome with our two younger children one Easter, staying at an inexpensive hotel off the Via Veneto. But in real life, I didn’t get kidnapped, and I didn’t meet the sex sphere.

Where did I get the idea for the sex sphere? I might blandly say that, as I’m interested in the fourth dimension, I wanted to echo the Flatland theme of a sphere that lifts a lower-dimensional being into higher space. But that doesn’t address the real question, that is: Why did I write a book about a giant butt from the fourth dimension?

Visually, I think the sex sphere may have been inspired by the paleolithic Venus of Willendorf sculpture—perhaps I saw a photo of the little statuette in the Scientific American. Less highbrow inputs were drawings in the underground comix I read at the time—I’m thinking particularly of the work of Robert Williams.

Another reason why I wrote about the sex sphere was that, quite simply, I wanted to be outrageous and to flout conventional notions of propriety. I was chafing at the fact that I was living in the Lynchburg, Virginia, which was the preppy home town of a then well-known right-wing television evangelist. I was teaching mathematics at a somewhat namby-pamby college for women. I was well aware that I was likely to be relieved of my teaching job very soon, and I was singing lead in a short-lived punk band called The Dead Pigs.

In terms of iconography, the sex sphere interested me as she’s an objective correlative for a certain way that men may think of women. And combining her appearance with higher dimensions makes her a male scientist’s image of a love goddess. But it’s important that, in the end, our hero Alwin would rather be with his real, human wife.

I think The Sex Sphere is one of my better books, even though it wasn’t widely read when it appeared. I had a nice, loose style then, and a lot of freedom; if you were writing paperback SF originals in the early 80s, it didn’t seem like there was much of a filter. Like clear channel border radio. And my Ace editor Susan Allison approved of it.

Odd as it may sound, I’ve always hoped The Sex Sphere would become a respected work of modern literature...