“After Everything Woke Up” by Rudy Rucker

IZ220 coverA trailer for Hylozoic, with all the colour and vim and almost complete lack of plot and character that suggests. You can read a version of it here, which has been tinkered with at the sentence level (or the Interzone version has), and goes on a bit longer than “After Everything Work Up” (stop at “The mortar set up as hard as stone”, which in Interzone is “The mortar set up nice and hard, as strong as stone”), but covers the same ground. Two mouthpieces are on a mission to explain the world to each other (i.e., to us):

“You really think we can teleport a whole house this far?” asked Thuy.

“Sure,” said JayJay. “Working alone, you and I can’t teek much more than a couple of hundred kilograms at a time. But with a dozen of our friends pitching in, for sure we can move our little house here from San Francisco. We’ll build the foundation today, and this evening – alley-oop! – we drop our cozy nest into place. Housewarming party!”

They can discuss such things because the title means what it says: after some sort of singularity or singularity-like event, everything – birds called Kwaawk, streams called Gloob, rocks called Bonk and Clack and Harvey – is conscious, thanks to “emergent intelligences based upon chaotic natural computations as enhanced by the ubiquitous memory storage available via the recently unfurled eighth dimension”. It is all completely daffy, nothing resembling a story (OK, there’s a spat with Gloob), and I am helpless before it.

Consciousness goes all the way down to the atoms in your body, and all the way up to Gaia, but the teleportation is a human thing:

“I don’t think it’s Gaia’s doing,” said JayJay. He’d been one of the first to figure out teleportation, and he liked to hold forth about it. [And everything else!] “The ability to teleport is peculiar to the human mind. Rats and roaches are too carefree to fuzz out and teleport. Over the millennia, we humans have evolved towards thinking ourselves into spots where we’re not. It’s all about remorse, doubt and fear. As for intelligent objects – sure the silps can talk, but they don’t have our rich heritage of hang-ups: our regrets about the past, our unease about the present, our anxiety about the future. Humans are used to spreading themselves across a zillion worlds of downer what-if. That’s why we can teleport.”

Heavy, dude! And did you know that communing with Gaia gets you high? Oh Rudy Rucker, never change.

6 thoughts on ““After Everything Woke Up” by Rudy Rucker

  1. And did you know that communing with Gaia gets you high?

    I’m kind of conflicted about Rucker. The plots of so many of his novels sound fascinating, but none of his short stories have really been to my taste. It’s that funky 60s psychidelic vibe that hasn’t clicked with me. Are all his novels written in the same style, or is that tone reserved for the stories set in this sort-of-post-Singularity future?

    I guess I’m asking for advice from those better versed in Rucker’s oeuvre: If I haven’t liked the stories like this one and the “Nants” stories, is there a chance that I’d like “Mathematicians in Love” or should I pass?

  2. It might be worth trying White Light, which I remember as being that crucial bit less glib without losing the mind-bending-ness. (Of course my memory could be playing tricks.) I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s read Mathematicians in Love, too, because it sounds a bit more manageable, but I can’t quite bring myself to believe it actually is.

  3. Rucker’s online zine Flurb is full of weird, surreal stories that impact on the reader in imagery rather than character or plot. Not to everyone’s taste but most issues have at least one really good story.

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