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March 31, 2006

Dr. Rudy Rucker, Author, Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, and Professor (retired) of Computer Science, San Jose State University, 3/29/06

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Dr. Rudy Rucker has generously provided this brief autobiography —

I began publishing at age 30 and moved to Silicon Valley at 40. I’ve put out 25 books of science-fiction and popular science.

Growing up, I was greatly influenced by the Beat authors. I was an early cyberpunk and an editor at the Berkeley-based Mondo 2000. I won two Philip K. Dick awards for the four cyberpunk novels in my best-selling Ware series about intelligent robots.

My most recent novels were written in other modes. Frek and the Elixir is a far-future epic about a boy’s galactic quest to restore Earth’s ecology. The book was designed to incorporate the mythic elements described in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces. And As Above So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel is a historical novel about my favorite painter. I identify with Bruegel: he loved both the fantastic and the specific, and depicted both otherworldly drolleries and everyday life — sometimes in a manner deemed vulgar or obscure.

I recently retired from my position as a professor of computer science at San Jose State University, where I created a number of freeware programs relating to chaos, artificial life, cellular automata, higher dimensions and computer games.

My classic nonfiction books The Fourth Dimension and Infinity and the Mind have remained in print for 20 years, and exist in dozens of translations. I recently completed a nonfiction book called The Lifebox, The Seashell and The Soul, and a fantastic novel called Mathematicians in Love. And now I’m starting a new novel, Postsingular, about life after a computational singularity.

I revel in the craft of writing; I like being able to control these little worlds where things work out the way I want. My emotional makeup is such that it doesn’t require any special exercise of willpower to stay focused during the weeks and months that it takes to turn out a book. Writing is simply what I like to do. If anything, it could be that I’m a bit compulsive about my writing, preferring it to the uncertainties and disappointments of daily life. It’s no accident that so many of my heroes leave the ordinary world for adventures in fabulous other lands --- for the real me, those other lands are my books.

Even so, writing is hard, and after each book is finished, I wonder if I’ll manage to write another. So far, I always do — but each time it works, I’m surprised.

I recently took up blogging, which is a huge time-sink, but a good way to limber up, test out ideas, and do self-promotion — not to mention doing public service by providing an alternate news source. My blog and home page can be found here.

Posted by David Lemberg at March 31, 2006 01:12 PM Return to SCIENCE AND SOCIETY home page