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White Light (Cortext : Science Fiction That Changed the World) Paperback – September, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Paperback, September, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Malcontent mathematics instructor Feliz Raymond's afternoon naps are the subject of Rudy Rucker's strange and delightful White Light. Bored with his life and job at a state university in New York and making no headway in solving Georg Cantor's Continuum Problem, Raymond finds himself every afternoon, lying flat on his floor, entering into a state of lucid dreaming that allows him to explore an entirely new surreal and mathematically-charged reality. What follows is an adventure through time and space, the likes of which only a collaboration between Umberto Eco and Lewis Carroll could attempt. With traveling companions ranging from Einstein to the devil to a giant beetle named Franx, Raymond explores the infinite reaches of his new playground, which is filled with a multitude of cultural and scientific references, some subtle and many overt. Each turned corner of White Light is another gleeful surprise, another celebration of cleverness and imagination. Rucker, who is just as comfortable presenting accessible introductions to modern ideas in geometry (The Fourth Dimension: A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes) as he is spinning yarns of hacker fiction (The Hacker and the Ants), wrote this novel while, like the protagonist, endeavoring to solve Cantor's Continuum Problem at a state university in New York. This novel belongs to the tradition of science fiction pioneered by H. G. Wells, where the science is the source of intrigue that adventures grow from and propel the protagonists.

Product Details

  • Series: Cortext : Science Fiction That Changed the World
  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Hardwired; Reprint edition (September 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888869178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888869170
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,541,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rudy Rucker is a writer and a mathematician who spent 20 years as a Silicon Valley computer scientist. He's a contemporary master of science-fiction, and received the Philip K. Dick award twice. His 37 published books include novels and non-fiction books such as THE FOURTH DIMENSION. His cyberpunk series THE WARE TETRALOGY and his novel of the fourth dimension SPACELAND are favorites. His memoirs NESTED SCROLLS and ALL THE VISIONS offer uniquely skewed insights into our times. Recent books include COMPLETE STORIES and the novels TURING & BURROUGHS and THE BIG AHA. His recent reprint collection TRANSREAL TRILOGY includes his classic novels THE SECRET OF LIFE, WHITE LIGHT, and SAUCER WISDOM. And his latest title, TRANSREAL CYBERPUNK collects his nine stories with Bruce Sterling. More info at http://www.rudyrucker.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is obvious to me that mankind has a built-in desire to expand - in any and every way. Today, virtual worlds of various scope and quality are common (mostly, as games) and interconnected via the internet. I am coming to believe that the impetus for these creations must lie deep within us - it seems instinctive and critical to us in some way. The dream of the Buddha? Or, some aspect of evolution?
Before the existence of the current virtual worlds came to be so common, William Gibson imagined and coined the term "cyberspace". Gibson and other writers like Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson wrote stories of "cyberspace" and its relation to the human spirit and evolution. I think, however, it was probably necessary for computer technology to advance to a certain level before imagining these stories was possible. Or, was there synergy? Did the desire, inspired by cyberpunk authors, to create these worlds further drive the development of computer technology once it had achieved a level that inspired the authors? Ah, now I have a headache.
Well, before the computer technology was such as would inspire the concept of "cyberspace", there was a similar concept out of which the concept of "cyberspace" also likely grew. That concept involved a higher plane of reality that could be experienced by achieving "enlightenment" or having and out-of-body experience, sometimes with the assistance of drugs and/or sensory-deprivation tanks. This is the time and place that (I think) probably inspired the book "White Light" by Rudy Rucker. If you consider it a while, you can also see how these concepts extend in many ways into human history.
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Format: Paperback
I reviewed Rudy Rucker's finest nonfiction work, _Infinity and the Mind_, a while back, and it's about time I reviewed this one too. I think this is probably his finest fiction.

Nor is that an accident, as it was written at about the same time as _Infinity and the Mind_ and deals with the same primary theme: the soul's quest for God, the Absolutely Infinite. And Rucker's is my kind of mysticism.

For this novel is about a mathematician who went to college to dodge the draft and winds up working in set theory in an attempt to (as Lord Buckley would have put it) dig infinity. At one time, Rucker himself was a mathematician who was supposed to be working on Georg Cantor's Continuum Problem while stuck teaching at a college in upstate New York; the novel's protagonist, Felix Rayman, is closely modeled on Rucker in this and other respects. (Some of the other characters are modeled on real and fictional people as well: for example, "Franx," the giant cockroach, is modeled on Franz Kafka -- author of "Metamorphosis," in which Gregor Samsa finds himself turned into a giant cockroach -- and "Donald Duck" is modeled on Donald Duck.) In fact, the original subtitle of the novel was "What Is Cantor's Continuum Problem?" -- which is, incidentally, to determine what order of infinity the points in space make up.

This is thus the first novel in Rucker's series of "transreal" novels -- "transrealism" being defined as somewhat metaphorical storytelling based pretty closely on the author's own experiences. In the present case, we're talking about mystical experiences, some drug-induced, some not.
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By A Customer on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gregory Benford once stated that he was skeptical on the literary effectiveness of math stories because "mathematical languages have such a wonderful aura of precision and controllability, which is why scientists are intuitively drawn to them; but they lack a quality I can only describe as human expressiveness." To those who concur with Benford I point out Rucker's White Light as a counterexample. White Light is hilarious, intriguing and even poignant at times. The hero Felix Rayman is actually likeable and he keeps the story grounded in the sphere of human emotions even at its most fantastical moments. What does Felix as Donald Duck think about after he has had his heart ripped out by an Aztec priest? - That he never told Hewey, Dewey and Louie that he loved them! However, I must add that this book might be confusing to someone who has had minimal exposure to math beyond calculus. The enjoyment of the book is heightened if you've read Cantor's proof that the cardinality of the real numbers is greater than the cardinality of the natural numbers, know something about the Banach-Tarski paradox and the Axiom of Choice, and have a general knowledge of the great mathematicians of the late 19th century. If you like Stanislaw Lem, are interested in higher mathematics and are tired of those space operas I would highly recommend White Light.
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Format: Paperback
A modern 'Alice in Wonderland' for grown-ups, this easily-digestible novel (it's very short) tells the possibly-imaginary tale of a man who falls out of his body one day and takes off in pursuit of the infinite, and beyond. It doesn't really have much of a point, and the author was clearly making it all up as he went along (the abstract nature of 'Cimon' renders conventional plotting superfluous), but provided you don't take it at all seriously it's a light-hearted romp through a surreal, infinite world.
This particular edition was published in associated with Wired magazine - despite the awful essay that introduces it, it has nothing to do with cyberpunk at all (there are *no* in-line skates, and at no point does our hero plant explosives in somebody's head), and is all the better for it.
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