The short-story collection Gnarl!
is a companion volume to Rudy Rucker's nonfiction essay collection, Seek!
(The titles come from Rucker's self-professed motto, "Seek ye the gnarl!") Gnarl!
collects all of Rucker's short stories from the last quarter of the 20th century--some 36 selections in all--ranging from a 2-page solo effort to a 44-page collaboration with Bruce Sterling. Rucker has arranged the collection chronologically and also provided autobiographical notes about each piece, making this both the definitive volume and an excellent history of his short-story career. And it's certainly been an interesting career. Rucker is a physicist by day who says he has the politics of punks and hippies, was once obsessed by pot and alcohol, and "tends to write as if women were wonderful, fascinating aliens."
Publishers Weekly called Rucker "a mathematician bewitched by the absurdity of the universe," and it shows in almost every sentence he writes. In Rucker's world people have "face holes" instead of mouths or nostrils, wasps remind him of space monsters, and planet X shares more than a few similarities with Earth. And, not coincidentally, almost all of his protagonists are physicists. Also not coincidentally, physics often plays an important role, even making it into the titles of pieces such as "Pi in the Sky," "Schrödinger's Cat," "Inertia," and "Probability Pipeline." But even though Rucker tends to write "hard SF" in the sense that most of his stories rely heavily on science, this is not the usual nuts-and-bolts stuff of, say, Hal Clement. Rather, this is cutting-edge physics extrapolated almost beyond imagination to create fascinating worlds and wonderful stories. Some traditional SF readers may be intimidated by how far off the beaten science fiction path Rucker sometimes strays, but in the end it's almost always a walk worth taking. --Craig E. Engler
From Publishers Weekly
A mathematician and computer scientist, Rucker (Saucer Wisdom) is probably best known for the bitingly satirical fiction he wrote during SF's 1980s cyberpunk revolution. Arriving on the heels of his newly collected nonfiction, SEEK! (1999), this volume--his first book of short stories to be published in 17 years--collects 36 wonderful pieces. Arranged chronologically, the volume begins with "Jumpin' Jack Flash," which, like a lot of Rucker's work, revolves around crackpot scientists, quantum reality, sexual confusion and screwed-up alien invasions. Later, "Schr?dinger's Cat" considers time machines; "The Indian Rope Trick Explained" and "Message Found in a Copy of Flatland" pay homage to Edwin Abbott's classic Victorian novel (about life in two dimensions); and "The Jack Kerouac Disembodied School of Poetics" and "The Andy Warhol Sandcandle" add beat poets, Warhol and scientists like Richard Feynman into the mix. Even though his plots frequently fit the bill as traditional hard SF-- stories like "The Last Einstein-Rosen Bridge," "A New Experiment with Time" and "The Man Who Ate Himself" each imagine a bizarre device, and then recount its effect on people--Rucker's edgy prose is consistently innovative. The only disappointment in the volume is "Pac-Man"--a predictable story about video game obsession and secret government plots. Despite the broadness of range, Rucker's crisp writing and quantum wanderings keep the work fresh. Fans will treasure this immense collection; even readers unfamiliar with Rucker's work will find in these stories a multitalented, challenging author whose work stretches and distorts the oft-staid boundaries of traditional SF.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.