The saucer aliens are here. They’re healing the planet. They’ve got to be stopped.
Fiction and Excerpts 
Thanks to “bluegene,” life is long. But out Route 42 near Goshen, it’s also kind of dull. Just the thing to encourage an expedition into the only actual other universe, the place where…but that would be telling.
This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
You can’t just morph a federal scientist into a giant invertebrate that catches fire. That’s not an acceptable protocol. And the feds aren’t going to fund you anymore. Not when your boss is a self-flattening radioactive pancake.” In “Loco,” an original science fiction story by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling, desperate times call for desperate inventions.
This story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by Tor Books editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
We invite you to enjoy the first chapter of Rudy Rucker’s autobiographical memoir, Nested Scrolls:
The autobiography of Rudy Rucker begins in Louisville, Kentucky, with a young boy growing up with a desire to be a beatnik writer, a businessman father who becomes a clergyman, and a mother descended from the philosopher, Hegel. It continues through his college years, his romance with his wife, graduate school, rock music, and his college teaching jobs as a math professor. All the while Rudy is reading science fiction, beat poetry, and beginning to write some pretty strange fiction, a blend of Philip K. Dick and hard SF that qualifies him as part of the original circle of writers in the early 1980s, including Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, John Shirley, and Lew Shiner, who founded cyberpunk. He becomes known for his wild-man behavior, in the beatnik tradition.
Later, Rucker renames his fiction Transrealism (and now there is at least one academic book on the subject). In the mid-1980s he switches from math to computers, just in time for the computer revolution. By then he is living in Silicon Valley and teaching in Santa Cruz. As the ’90s go by and his life evens out, he keeps writing and producing a unique and wildly imaginitive body of work in SF, usually math-based hard SF. And he’s still doing that today. This book is sweet and gentle and honest, and intellectually fierce.
This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.
“They say the moon’s gone missing,” said Carlo Morse. He set another fabule on the checkered tablecloth at Schwarz’s Deli.
Jimmy Ganzer examined the growing collection of dream nuggets. The fabules were tightly patterned little pastel spheres, pockmarked and seamed, scattered across the tabletop like wads of gum. “Nobody goes for space travel dreams anymore,” said Ganzer. “I don’t want to work on that.”
“I don’t mean the moon’s supposed to be in our new fabule for Skaken Recurrent Nightmare,” said Morse. “I’m telling you that the moon has really gone missing. Reports from Shanghai say the moon faded from the sky a few hours ago. Like a burnt-out firework. Everyone’s waiting to see what happens when night hits Europe and the U.S.”
On Moon Landing Day, I was already giddy, as my wife and I were expecting our first baby the next month. We listened to the landing on TV, amazed at the onward rush of history. As the news settled in, we went outside and looked up at the actual moon, nearly half full. It was exhilarating to think of there being people up there, and to think that close-up images of the moon were on our TV. It gave me a curious sense of being in two places at once.
The next day, as is well known, Neil Armstrong got his first line slightly wrong, that is, he said, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind, ” without saying the “a.” That bothered me, adding to my sense of disappointment with the astronauts’ uninspired and inarticulate remarks. It’s worth remembering that the moon landing came at the tail end of the war in Viet Nam, and many people my age had strongly negative feelings about the military. Ultimately, all twelve of the Apollo moon-walkers were employed by the military or by NASA—which seriously dampened the vibe.
I still wish NASA would send up some civilian writers as astronauts. I myself might be too old by now, but I’m sure that, say, Charlie Stross would be willing to go…
Rudy Rucker is an American science fiction author, mathematician, teacher, and computer scientist. He is perhaps best known for his Ware tetralogy, and frequently writes about scientific or mathematical ideas.
Series: Moon Landing Day
Infinity in its highest form has created and sustains us, and in its secondary transfinite forms occurs all around us and even inhabits our minds.
—Georg Cantor, “On Various Standpoints Regarding the Actual Infinite,” 1885
Late one winter afternoon, lanky, gray-haired Jack Bohn lay on the living room couch with his legs propped on two stacked sofa cushions, typing into the worn laptop that rested on his thighs. He was a recently retired mathematics professor, trying to write one more big paper, this one relating to his notion that the natural world is filled with infinities of all sizes. The ultimate goal of his investigations was to reach a conclusion about how the different levels of infinity meshed.
“Alef arthritis,” he threw out to his wife Ulla, busy at her easel across the room, painting one of her glorious landscapes. Jack’s back ached all the time, each day more than before. “Alef arthritis is what ails you?” said Ulla, not overly concerned. “I’ve never heard of it.” She was a graceful woman with a warm, cheerful face.
“Well—I just invented the name. I see alef arthritis as being a stiffness that sets in when matter is cut off from infinity. I have alef arthritis in my back because I’ve lost touch with the transfinite. Stressing about the Planck length.”
“You’re fussing about quantum mechanics again?” said Ulla. She was using her palette knife to craft a spectrum of shades between two blues; a splatter of paint dropped to the floor. They’d learned to live with paint stains on the rug.
“My latest idea is that physical matter is transfinitely divisible,” said Jack. “When my head’s in the right place, I can see it and feel it: levels below levels, down past alef-null, alef-one, alef-two, on and on. But prim, stuffy quantum mechanics is getting in my face, saying that I should bail out at the Planck length scale, which is a piddling ten-to-the-minus-thirty-fifth meters. So lame. So puritanical. What they don’t understand is that the Planck length scale isn’t a wall. It’s a frontier. There’s a whole new subdimensional world below. And it’s intimately connected to the transfinite. That’s what my new paper is about. I’m hoping the physics angle can help solve the Generalized Continuum Problem.”
“That old shoe?” said Ulla with an experienced wife’s friendly mockery.
“The Generalized Continuum Problem is important,” said Jack, beginning to frown. “It’s kind of sad that I’ve worked on it my whole life, and you don’t even know what it is.”
“Explain it to me again, Jack,” said Ulla, sweetening her voice. “Just one more time.”
“You always say that, and then you don’t listen.”
“But I know you love talking about it. And I do like the sound of the math words. They’re so exotic.”
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