By Luther Blissett
February 4th, 2017
This Rucker collection has two short fiction stories and an important essay, “Surfing the Gnarl,” about Rucker’s approach to writing, science fiction, and integrating autobiography into his work. This same piece continues Rucker’s ongoing thoughts and discussions for Transrealism, the term Rucker has been using for decades to describe his own work; he also calls some of his work Beatnik Science Fiction. Check out Rucker’s website for more information on his approach to Transrealism. There are some interesting YouTube interviews with him that link to Beats Kerouac and Burroughs.
As with most of Rucker’s fiction, the stories are funny, absurd, and laugh-out-loud in multiple points. Definitely easy to engage with, and you want to keep reading. “The Men in the Back Room at the Country Club” is humor, but it could also be a Grade B teenager horror film. Incredibly creative. Playful. Captures well youthful angst for kids moving from home into college life — or at least leaving home. “Rapture in Space” could well happen in the next decade — or at least some version of this reality tv show with sex in space. Playful. Disturbing in places. Overall a fun ride.
For readers that are not familiar with Rucker’s work, these are great toe dips. They offer short blasts into the mind morphing, surreally familiar but strangely not worlds Rucker summons in text.
Rucker’s best pieces are “Surfing the Gnarl” and the interview with Bisson. Their value make the book. The two stories are bonus torte.