Juicy Ghosts – Rudy Rucker (2021)
Once again, I venture forth into the Rudy Rucker Gnarl and find myself awash in intellect-tingling joy. I cannot tell if Rucker’s stories live in my head or if I live in Rucker’s stories. This is exactly the state of being I seek when I dive into a Rudy Rucker tome. The story contained within Juicy Ghosts, like all of his novels, has left my mind delirious and giddy. We are all very fortunate to share time-space with Mr. Rucker.
I first began my love of Rudy Rucker through his Ware Tetralogy, (Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware), a series of seminal cyberpunk books that not only explored deeply weird and inventive scientific concepts, but also contained a deeply humorous and propulsive story. Juicy Ghosts continues in this vein. Rudy Rucker has a gift for describing the most complex and hypothetical scientific possibilities as if he was telling you a funny story about a wild neighbor. The language pops. The jokes pop. The science pops. I like my stories to pop.
Rudy Rucker was inspired to write a short story, itself titled Juicy Ghosts, when he experienced the ignorant and hateful Trump presidency, and worried that he would be voted in for a second term. The story was fleshed out into a full novel, thank goodness, for it is one of the best times I have had reading a book in quite some time. In Juicy Ghosts, the United States have lived under the totalitarian rule of a malignant wanna-be dictator, and people are sick of it. Technology has evolved to be organically based, with tools, vehicles, pets, and robots grown instead of constructed. Humans use an uvvy, a mass of fungus that attaches to your body and feeds your thoughts to the world like a highly powerful modem. A massive upgrade of this technology begins a series of events that end up connecting a group of people that seek to bring down the current government and enable a society that allows each citizen to benefit from the new tech.
One of the best parts of a Rucker story is how he uses language to describe and explain quite far-reaching scientific ideas. None of the tech in his books seems like magic. It draws on the possibilities inherent in our current scientific knowledge, and, like the best of science fiction writers, he takes the ideas as far as they can possibly go. The beauty is that all the while the story is so propulsive and downright fun that it never feels like a science lecture. Instead, it feels as if I jumped forward into the future, and am trying to catch up to everyone else! I love science fiction that achieves this. It is a visceral quality often lacking from such stories. As with all of Rudy Rucker’s novels, this one is highly recommended.
(As an aside, Rudy Rucker’s novels are RIPE for translation into a screenplay, and I think they would make AMAZING films with their combo of deep intelligence, hyperviolence, hilarity, and social commentary. However, the Hollywood establishment will not touch any science fiction that is not 99% normal story with a dash of technobabble to make it sound sci-fi. This is why so many of their sci-fi films are so boring. They deeply underestimate the intelligence and curiosity of the average filmgoer. Rudy Rucker respects YOUR intelligence!)
(Juicy Ghosts can be purchased in various formats here: https://www.rudyrucker.com/juicyghosts/ )
(Juicy Ghosts can be read online here: https://www.rudyrucker.com/juicyghosts/html/ )