You should think of me as a person My personality is human I still like eating and and other things This combination of human and robot fused into one a prime philosophic enigma addressed squarely in Rudy Rucker s Software Take a close look at the gal above, a young lady who could be Misty from the novel talking about her identity Twenty five year old, randy Stanley Hilary Mooney Jr aka Sta Hi Mooney is certainly attracted, big time, but then again he starts thinking of the wires behind her eyes it would be like having sex with a machine, an inanimate object Rucker s 1982 cyberpunk classic is hardly the only piece of fiction to present the human as robot puzzle Or, should I say robot as human Recall beautiful Rachael Rosen from Philip K Dick s 1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the 2014 film Ex Machina featuring stunning Alicia Vikander as Ava With our world s rapidly evolving computer technology, maybe such an alluring, sexually charged creation isn t that many years away Isaac Asimov s three laws of robotics formulated back in the 1940s dark ages demand robots slavishly abide by an overarching ironclad rule humans first, robots second Ralph Numbers, a forward thinking bopper boppers are robots with real brains created some years prior by the novel s main character, old man Cobb Anderson says phooey to such inferior human twaddle Humans first and robots last Forget it No wayRalph reflects with wry satisfaction on how he taught other boppers to reprogram their robot circuitry to transcend Asimov s laws and thus attain true freedom Not only did Cobb Anderson build the first generation of real brain boppers but he gave his boppers the capacity, in turn, to produce other sophisticated, intelligent boppers to the point where those advanced iterations developed consciousness And now those fully conscious boppers would like nothing than to expand universal consciousness and mystical awareness of the oneness of life by converting inferior forms of intelligence such as humans, little minded boppers and diggers worker robots into reprogrammed extensions of their own big bopper minds If all this sounds crazy, you are far from mistaken In his lecturers From Here to Infinity An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature, Michael D C Drout proclaimed Software and Freeware, two books in Rudy Ruker s Ware Trilogy, as the weirdest good books you will ever read Perhaps not surprisingly, Software won the Philip K Dick award What was the award, I wonder Perhaps a year s supply of speed or tabs of LSD Reading Rudy Rucker s turbo injected spinning at the speed of light fiction, I wouldn t be surprised But seriously folks, I suspect than drugs, what really infuses Rudy s fiction with its edgy brilliance is his background in advanced mathematics and computer science And please keep in mind the author has over two dozen novels and other works of fiction and nonfiction to his credit Fortunately for lovers of SF, Rudy Rucker is still going strong at age seventy one Any reader who enjoys breaking a mental sweat over paradoxes and the metaphysical maze of computational machines, artificial intelligence and the Turing test will have ample material to chew on in the pages of Software This includes the appearance of a robotic twin for both Cobb and Sta Hi Cobb2 can flop and flounder with the best of them Sta Hi2 turns out to be the obedient, reliable, hard working son his dad always wanted Are these doubles human enhancements or human deficient There s also Robert Nozick s thought experiment of brain transference the brain from person A including all past memories is placed in the body of person B After the operation person B thinks he is person A Is his thinking accurate Is B entitled to take on the rights and responsibilities of A, including living with A s wife and children Such a thought experiment is further complicated in Software Is Cobb still Cobb when his brain Software is given a new bopper body hardware Such dilemmas go back to the mind body problem conceived by such thinkers as Ren Descartes I purposely went light on plot there s simply too many freaky chutes and ladders, including a trip to the moon, a brain drinking party in Florida, a bopper freezer in a Mr Frostee ice cream truck and enough reefer to keep even Stay Hi hi This is a very good book, a very weird book and a very crazy book I always wondered if another novel could take the hallucinogenic cake and join PKD s Dr Bloodmoney as the strangest, most bizarre, twisted novel I have ever read For this distinction, Software wins the Glenn C Russell prize Born in 1946, Rudy Rucker is not only an American science fiction author and among the founders of cyberpunk but also an expert in advanced mathematics and computer science.
Totally crazy fun I haven t had this much sheer delight in crazy robot action in ages The boppers are a blast.
Get this turn the whole meme of eating brains into a gigantic robot enterprise to upload meat people into imperishable robot bodies, turn the moon into a robot paradise fueled by program evolution, add a serious stoner meat person to join in the fun up in the moon, and make sure we ve got a lot of funny and light and subversive dialogue, and we ve got Software.
Truly, this is one of those gems that should be a cult classic rocking around in people s mental spaces and cropping up every once in a while in regular conversation.
We re going to Disneyland Okay, wait, let s place this in its proper time, shall we 1982 This is officially the start of the cyberpunk movement, but it shares very little in common with Neuromancer It s of a 60 s stoner movie with crazy philosophizing robots behaving like zombies for people s meat brains for the stuff we hold in em, with weird homages to the traditional human lifestyle that s epic comedy than a serious piece of love Think Asimov s Robots meeting Hunter S Thompson I love it But that s not to say that there isn t some issues with plot or payout at the end of the novel, because there isn t much of that there.
But honestly I just don t care Its wild and fun and funny and I m thrilled because it s only the first of the four in the quadrology The mark of a good book is sometimes all about how much fun we have not focusing on silly things like plot This is an idea lover s book and it s written very well, transporting us away into a hellofafun pot dream.
This is one of those books I am surprised people have not read or at least heard of This won the first ever Philip K Dick Award and book two in the series won the award years later Not that I put all of my stock in awards but whatever will encourage people to read this book I will mention.
Part of me badly wants to rate this book 5 stars but there were a few things that bothered me enough for a final 4 1 2 star rating I experienced some difficulty starting but once the action kicked in, the difficulty disappeared I was, and still am, completely confused as to why Sta Hi was so important to the boppers Maybe I missed something And Annie just flat out annoyed me What was her purpose Past these issues, I loved the book ALL science fiction and cyberpunk fans should give this a chance Rucker created a disturbingly unique future setting, one full of possibilities, which has me excited to start the next in the series I liked the two main characters, Cobb and Sta Hi surprisingly enough and I really loved the ending More than a few distressing things happened to the characters Extremely distressing, as in there were live brains involved My ick factor was near maxed out so bonus points have been provided and you have been warned.
This book is original, even by today s standards, so considering this was written in the early 80 s, I think it is important and reflective of the ideas included Rucker explores some weighty topics, forces his characters to ask some serious questions, to make seriously permanent decisions I have read few science fiction books that explored what it is to be human so well as this book does by exploring artificial intelligence By saying I am a mirror, and considering who said that, well, Rucker begins to spell everything out for the reader who wants to look past the surface story of drugs and action.
I want to be a United Cults Minister with a drunkenness subroutine Stuzzy I love books with memorable, made up slang.