Rudy Rucker

Four Walls Eight Windows / 308 pages / December 2002

ISBN: 1568582471

There are robots, and then there are robots. Some people hear the word and think of those annoying mechanical sidekicks from science fiction (I’m looking at you, Twiki…) and decide that real robots are still in our not-so-distant future. Robots, though, are in our midst every day and we seldom notice because they don?t fit our space opera definition. Aside from our assembly-line machines and not-remotely-lifelike techno pets, our world is filled with robots in human bodies.

Jerzy Rugby is a perfect example of an organic robot; he’s made of all the same parts as us, but his every move is orchestrated and controlled by someone else. Jerzy is a pawn, acting at the whim of others without ever realising the irony as he works to turn out more refined computer-driven robots. And, like anyone who blindly obeys commands, he is going to end up the fall guy. From his bosses to his lover to his realtor, everyone around him is frogmarching him through life. Sadly, he seldom even notices.

In this tweaked, upgraded edition of Rucker?s 1993 novel, Jerzy is a talented hacker (and you’ll learn a whole new connotation for that word) working on perfecting a household robot for first one, then a second, company. His eccentric boss is working on creating artificial life, a bit-map ant colony. When the ants cross over into Jerzy?s computer and his own robot, it is only the beginning of an invasion that will change the world, for better or worse.

Step in, Mr. Scapegoat. All the evidence points to Jerzy as the out-of-control criminal that everyone wants caught and strung up. The fact that he didn’t do anything wrong pales into insignificance alongside the inconvenience his alleged actions have caused. To make matters worse the very people who should be protecting such a valued employee seem to believe the media reports. Where can a man without a company go now?

The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0 is a perfect portrayal of a man whose only importance is his technical contribution. And that contribution is not enough to save him when things begin to spiral out of control.

Rucker?s writing is everything we’ve come to expect of one of the genre?s most talented, and most independent, thinkers. The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0 is simultaneously farcical, subversive, entertaining, and fascinating. Rucker sees the world with super-secret Xray glasses that cut right to the heart of the faulty, foolish people we often are, and to the spark of potential that makes us worth salvaging.

Individually, that is — as commercial entities we are all need to be separate before someone really gets hurt. And believe me, Rudy Rucker is not afraid to turn this thing around and go back home if we can’t play quietly.