Sunday, July 6, 2008

Flurbmeister Rudy

Some science fiction is just not suitable for public consumption--abnormal, diseased, disturbing, shamelessly flaunting the few taboos that still persist in these permissive times. Not fit for prime time. However there's always a few rabid fans who crave stronger stuff than mainstream SF provides. Waiter, where's my raw meat!

In the late 60s, Harlan Ellison solicited from his fellow SF writers manuscripts that their mainstream editors had rejected as too boundary-breaking, perverted or in bad taste, and collected these quirky works in a book called Dangerous Visions. To everyone's surprise appetite for weirdness had so increased in the 60s that DV became a runaway bestseller and was quickly followed by a sequel Again, Dangerous Visions.

Continuing in the Dangerous Visions tradition, SF bad boy Rudy Rucker along with Peter Lamborn Wilson (of TAZ fame) and Robert Anton Wilson (Illuminatus) collected bizarro manuscripts from their pals and put together a combination called Semiotext(e) SF which contains one of the earliest and most hilarious descriptions of sex in free fall that I've ever read. Later Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Review would publish a similar description of Zero-G sexual acrobatics and the ensuing controversy for a while split the magazine into two versions--one lite, one dark.

But all that flurry happened back in the dimly remembered Lithographic Era before the Internet. SF writers are still producing shocking, obscure and undefinable stories. That's their nature. But where to publish? One answer is Flurb.

Flurb represents Rudy Rucker's new role as a publisher for the too twisted works that he and his friends produce that can't find a comfortable outlet in the mainstream. You want high quality weird? Seek no further. Rudy's standards are so elastic that Flurb even published four of my quantum tantra rants.

Rudy is a multi-talented (I almost said multi-tentacled) writer who is learning to paint and has a splendid eye for photography. Reading his blog I realize that Rucker is also a splendid travel writer and this dude's been everywhere--from Tokyo to Amsterdam to the badlands of South Dakota. Oh yes, and during his wanton youth in Appalachia, Rudy sang in a rock and roll band that had something to do with pigs.

Rudy Rucker's a prolific and terrifically inventive SF writer. Most recent works: Postsingular and Mathematicians in Love. But I'm a real fan of his older stuff, notably his "Ware" trilogy Software, Wetware and Freeware. Rudy has a habit of writing his friends into his novels. Saucer Wisdom for instance features a couple suspiciously resembling me and my wife Betsy in which "I" am abducted by time-traveling saucer beings. No anal probes though. Thanks, Rudy.

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