Rudy Rucker

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Rudy Rucker
Rudy Rucker, Fall 2004, photo by Georgia Rucker
Born Rudolf von Bitter Rucker
(1946-03-22) March 22, 1946 (age 76)
Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality American
Alma mater St. Xavier High School, Swarthmore College, Rutgers University
Occupation Author
Known for Ware Tetralogy
Spouse(s) Sylvia Rucker (m. 1967)
Relatives G.W.F. Hegel
Website Rudy Rucker

Rudolf von Bitter Rucker (born March 22, 1946) is an American mathematician,[1] computer scientist, science fiction author,[2] and philosopher, and is one of the founders of the cyberpunk literary movement. The author of both fiction and non-fiction, he is best known for the novels in the Ware Tetralogy, the first two of which (Software and Wetware) both won Philip K. Dick Awards. Until its closure in 2014 he edited the science fiction webzine Flurb.

Early life

Rucker was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the great-great-great-grandson of the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel.[3]

Rucker attended St. Xavier High School before earning a B.A. in mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1967 and M.S. (1969) and PhD (1973) degrees in mathematics from Rutgers University.[4]


Rucker taught at the State University of New York at Geneseo from 1972 to1978. Thanks to a grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Rucker taught math at the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg from 1978 to 1980. He then taught at Randolph-Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, Virginia from 1980 to 1982, before trying his hand as a full-time author for four years. Inspired by an interview with Stephen Wolfram,[5] Rucker became a computer science professor at San José State University in 1986, from which he retired in 2004.[6] A mathematician with philosophical interests, he has written The Fourth Dimension; Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension; and Infinity and the Mind. Princeton University Press published new editions of Infinity and the Mind in 1995 and in 2005, both with new prefaces; the first edition is cited with fair frequency in academic literature.[citation needed]

As his "own alternative to cyberpunk," Rucker developed a writing style he terms Transrealism. Transrealism, as outlined in his 1983 essay "The Transrealist Manifesto," is science fiction based on the author's own life and immediate perceptions, mixed with fantastic elements that symbolize psychological change. Many of Rucker's novels and short stories apply these ideas. One example of Rucker's Transrealist works is Saucer Wisdom, a novel in which the main character is abducted by aliens. Rucker and his publisher marketed the book, tongue in cheek, as non-fiction.[citation needed]

His earliest Transrealist novel, White Light, was written during his time at Heidelberg. This Transrealist novel is based on his experiences at SUNY Geneseo.

Rucker often uses his novels to explore scientific or mathematical ideas; White Light[7] examines the concept of infinity, while the Ware Tetralogy (written from 1982 through 2000) is in part an explanation of the use of natural selection to develop software (a subject also developed in his The Hacker and the Ants, written in 1994). His novels also put forward a mystical philosophy that Rucker has summarized in an essay titled, with only a bit of irony, "The Central Teachings of Mysticism" (included in Seek!, 1999).[8]

His non-fiction book, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning Of Life, and How To Be Happy summarizes the various philosophies he's believed over the years and ends with the tentative conclusion that we might profitably view the world as made of computations, with the final remark, "perhaps this universe is perfect."[citation needed]




Story collections

  • The Fifty-Seventh Franz Kafka (1983)
  • Transreal!, also includes some non-fiction essays (1991)
  • Gnarl! (2000), complete short stories
  • Mad Professor (2006)

Short fiction

Title Year First published in Reprinted/collected in
Yubba Vines

(with Paul Di Filippo)

2013 "Yubba Vines". Asimov's Science Fiction. 37 (7): 43–57. July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (1977)
  • (editor), Speculations on the Fourth Dimension: Selected Writings of Charles H. Hinton, Dover (1980), ISBN 0-486-23916-0
  • Infinity and the Mind (1982)
  • The Fourth Dimension (1984)
  • Mind Tools (1987)
  • All the Visions (1991), memoir
  • Seek! (1999), collected essays
  • Software Engineering and Computer Games (2002), textbook
  • The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me about Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and how to be Happy (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005)
  • Nested Scrolls - autobiography (2011)[10]

As editor

Personal life

Rucker attended Swarthmore College, where he was roommates with Kenneth Turan his freshman year.[12] In 1967, Rucker married Sylvia Rucker.[13] Together they have three children.[14] On July 1, 2008, Rucker suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Thinking he may not be around much longer, this prompted him to write the book Nested Scrolls, his autobiography.[15]


  • As actor-speaker in Manual of Evasion LX94, a 1994 film by Edgar Pêra


  1. Jonas, Gerald (May 4, 1997). "Science Fiction". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Jonas, Gerald (September 12, 2004). "Interstellar Serial Killer". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Family tree of Rucker's mother's brother, Rudolf von Bitter" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Rudy Rucker". NNDB.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Rudy Rucker interviews Stephen Wolfram". Retrieved April 8, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Rudy Rucker". Locus.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Itzkoff, Dave (December 16, 2007). "Across the Universe: Planetary Politics". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Central Teachings of Mysticism".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Wares".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Nested Scrolls".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Rudy Rucker".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Rucker, Rudy (December 11, 2012). Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker. New York, NY. ISBN 978-0765327536.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Rucker, Rudy (December 11, 2012). Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker. New York, NY. p. 105. ISBN 978-0765327536.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Rucker, Rudy (2015). "Photos for Rudy Rucker, JOURNALS 1990-2014". Rudy Rucker. Retrieved June 14, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Rucker, Rudy (December 11, 2012). Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker. New York, NY. p. 3. ISBN 978-0765327536.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links