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Rucker, Rudy

 

Rudy RuckerI was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 22, 1946. At that time my father had a small business making inexpensive furniture and my mother was a housewife. I have one sibling, my brother Embry, who is five years older than me, and still lives in Louisville. I went to private schools in Louisville, graduating from St. Xavier High School --- I was one of the few non-Catholics to attend that school; my parents had the idea it was very good for science. "St. X". While I was in high-school, my father became ordained as an Episcopal priest, and worked as parish priest for the rest of his life. My mother, who was born in Germany, was an enthusiastic gardener, amateur artist and potter.

 I went to Swarthmore College from 1963 - 1967, majoring in Mathematics and getting a Bachelor's degree. I had a lot of fun there, and was sorry to graduate. At this point, my choices were the draft or grad school, so I had no hesitation in going to Rutgers University: from 1967 - 1972. I got my Master's and my Ph.D. in Mathematics. My area of specialization was Mathematical Logic, with my thesis on Transfinite Set Theory. In 1967, I married my college sweetheart, Sylvia Bogsch, and not too long after that we had our three children: Georgia (1969), Rudy, Jr.(1972), and Isabel(1974).

 After grad school, I got my first job in the Math. Dept. at the State University College at Geneseo, New York, a job which lasted from 1972 - 1978. I started teaching the "Higher Geometry" course there, and turned it into a series of lectures on the fourth dimension. Eventually I wrote the lectures up as GEOMETRY, RELATIVITY AND THE FOURTH DIMENSION, and managed to get them published by Dover Publications, a house which primarily publishes public-domain books by dead authors. They didn't pay me much, but it was enough to throw myself a good thirtieth birthday party --- and my writing career was on its way.

 The next thing I wrote was a science fiction novel called SPACETIME DONUTS. This was in the summer of 1976. I wasn't sure I could write a novel, but I just kept going and after awhile it was done. Nobody wanted to publish it, but then I came across a new magazine called UNEARTH which was willing to serialize it in three parts. As it happened, UNEARTH went out of business before publishing Part 3.

 We were interested in finding a way to move out of cold, rainy upstate New York, and in 1978-1980 I luckily got a grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which is funded by the German government. The five of us lived in Heidelberg for two years, the kids making their way through German schools, and Sylvia struggling to keep everything together. (Bad news: in Germany, all the kids come home for lunch. Every day!) I had a peaceful office in the Mathematics Institute of the University of Heidelberg, and ended up writing most of INFINITY AND THE MIND as well as two novels there: WHITE LIGHT and SOFTWARE. WHITE LIGHT was picked up by Ace Books in the U.S., and by Virgin Books in the U.K. And then Ace bought SPACETIME DONUTS and SOFTWARE as a package, and I was really an SF writer.

 The only Math professor job I could find back in the states was at a tiny college called Randolph-Macon Woman's College, in, of places, Lynchburg, Virginia, the home of then-prominent Jerry Falwell. After two years at Randolph-Macon (1980 - 1982), I decided to give full-time writing a try. Sylvia and the kids and I stayed in Lynchburg; we had a nice big old house and it wasn't a bad place for the children to grow up. In the years 1982 -1986, I wrote six books. Eventually it got to be too hard a way to make too meager a living. And writing MIND TOOLS got me to wanting to teach Math again. When an old friend told me about a job opening at SJSU, I applied for it, and to my delight I was hired in 1986 and am still here in 1996.

 When I started my job in the SJSU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, I was urged to consider teaching CS as well as Math. I did not know a great deal about CS at the time (understatement!), although my doctoral work in Mathematical Logic had certainly familiarized me with theoretical computing. The first CS course I was assigned was anything but theoretical: it was 8086 Assembly Language! Fortunately, Prof. Giles was teaching the same course, and I was able to attend his lectures to help myself figure out what was going on. And soon I found something I was really interested in programming: Cellular Automata, called CAs for short.

 As well as teaching me a lot about CS, my interest in Cellular Automata led to a very interesting part-time job during the years 1988-1992. This was with Autodesk, Inc., of Sausalito, CA, makers of the popular AutoCAD program. It seemed that John Walker, the co-founder and then-chairman of Autodesk, was very interested in Cellular Automata as well. When I met Walker at the Hackers 2.0 conference in 1987, I showed him some CA programs I'd been working on. Some I'd written in Assembly Language, and some I'd written in Forth (!), which was the control language for a special CAM-4 Cellular Automata simulation card which SJSU had purchased. Walker had the idea of emulating the (expensive and difficult to obtain) CAM-4 in software, and he hired me to work on this project with him. I worked on several interesting software projects at Autodesk: Cellular Automata, Chaos, Artificial Life, and Virtual Reality. My novel THE HACKER AND THE ANTS was in many ways influenced by having worked inside a Silicon Valley software company.

 A drawback of working at Autodesk and SJSU at the same time was that I had very little time to write. These days I'm back to my main interests: teaching and writing. And I seem to spend an awful lot of time hacking Windows C++ graphics programs. I just finished writing my third *WARE novel, FREEWARE. Probably my next writing project will be a non-fiction book about some of the interesting things I've learned during these last ten years in the Valley Of Heart's Delight.

 

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