Burritos demand to be eaten and, when characters need light, they ask ceilings to glow in Rudy Rucker's new novel, Hylozoic. This latest by the multi-award-winning mathematician/computer scientist/cyberpunk pioneer — whose nearly three dozen previous works include Realware, Spacetime Donuts, and Postsingular — is set in a postgadget futureworld where telepathy and telekinesis have replaced technology. But it's under threat from aliens, including some that take the form of "nasty man-sized birds" and others that resemble giant flying stingrays. Battling them are honeymooners Thuy Nguyen and Jorge "Jayjay" Jimenez and a vast cast of characters that includes the 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Rocks and atoms communicate. A pitchfork speaks with a hillbilly twang.
Rucker, who will be at Moe's Books (2476 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) on Sunday, June 7, says his "ideas trickle in unpredictably. Often I'll push for an idea, focusing on a story situation and trying to imagine what comes next. When I'm brainstorming like this, it helps to be taking notes. ... Making little drawings helps, too." As does traveling. To absorb local color for Hylozoic, he visited Bosch's hometown and spent a week living on San Francisco's Valencia Street: "I don't always get the full insight that I need while I'm pushing. The search seems to continue in my subconscious, and maybe a few hours or even days later I'll get an 'aha' moment about what I need to do."
He has admired Bosch's visionary, weird works "ever since high school, when my big brother showed me a book of his paintings. Given my bent towards science fiction, surrealism, and fantastical worlds, Bosch is a natural for me. I've often wondered what kind of person Bosch was. Some passages in his pictures seem rather cruel; in other spots you pick up a feeling of ecstasy, and then again there's often a feeling of mockery and satire. I enjoyed trying to combine these hints into a character in Hylozoic — where he comes across as a genius, a devoted artist, somewhat sarcastic, a mystic, and something of a prick."
Rucker paints, too, creating sherbet-bright oils and acrylics such as "Stun City," "The Attack of the Mandelbrot Set," "Arf and the Saucer" (in which a dog barks at starfishlike creatures emerging from a spacecraft and leaping into what looks like a hot tub), and "Welcome to Mars."
"It's not pleasant or productive to sit at my computer trying to write all day. If I do that, I start feeling sorry for myself, like a shut-in. ... Painting is totally unlike using a computer. I smear things around, I drool over the pretty colors, and nothing is perfectly neat. My level of manual control is low enough that I tend to surprise myself with what I end up painting. Sometimes these surprises show me things that are a good fit for my current novel or story — you might say that I'm channeling information from another part of my brain." 7:30 p.m., free. MoesBooks.com
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