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Reader’s Den, eReading Room

Reader's Den: "Software" by Rudy Rucker (Discussion #1)

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Welcome to the June edition of Reader's Den at The New York Public Library!

This month we will discuss Rudy Rucker's Software (1982), the first book in the Ware Tetralogy science fiction series, which also includes Wetware (1988), Freeware (1997), and Realware (2000). 

To participate, simply request a print copy through the NYPL Catalog or download a free, Creative Commons-licensed ebook (available in Kindle, Nook, and Sony eReader formats). 

Software was the very first winner of the Philip K. Dick Award in 1983 and is considered a cyberpunk classic.  While the melding of high-tech futurism and gritty counterculture may seem commonplace today, Rucker's novel marks a growing movement that did not yet include the influential Philip K. Dick adaptation Blade Runner (1982) or William Gibson's genre-defining Neuromancer (1984).

Below are some discussion questions to help us get started, but feel free to comment on other things you notice about the book as well!

  1. Rudy Rucker is often compared to Philip K. Dick. Do you see similarities between the two writers?
  2. Are you familiar with the term "cyberpunk" and have you come across other works (books, movies, video games, etc.) that fall under this genre?
  3. The author has stated that he took the title Software from a 1979 issue of Scientific American, but at the time it was not a widely-used term or concept. Does the technology in the novel still seem futuristic to you or, conversely, does it seem dated 30 years later? 

This online book discussion is part of Sci-Fi Summer Reading 2011 and you can find even more science fiction-themed programming at bit.ly/scifisummer.

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sorry, just saw this post.

sorry, just saw this post. book's downloaded. will be commenting shortly. anyone else out there read any Rucker before? I've heard of Philip K. Dick, but haven't read any of his either yet.

sorry, just saw this post.

sorry, just saw this post. book's downloaded, so will be commenting shortly. anyone out there read any Rucker before? hadn't heard of him. have heard of Philip K. Dick, but haven't had a chance to read any of his yet either. i don't read a lot of science fiction, so we'll see how this goes! am a big Bradbury fan though.

Rudy Rucker, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury

This was my first Rudy Rucker book as well! How do you like it so far? Philip K. Dick is great and his Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (and its adaptation Blade Runner) are two big influences on cyberpunk. I see some definite similarities between the writers, though Rucker generally seems to take a lighter tone even when dealing with serious issues. What Ray Bradbury would you recommend?

Bradbury & 1st Impressions

Hmmm, had no idea that Blade Runner was an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick book! I'm definitely new to the world of cyberpunk. Do you feel this is a very up and coming genre for your library patrons or for mainstream readers, in general? I fell in love with Bradbury back in 6th grade when I read and presented his Martian Chronicles. Nerd that I am (and not giving a flip what my classmates thought of me, obviously,) I slathered a white glitter gel all over my face and arms and portrayed one of the alien characters :) Another fond Bradbury memory I have occurred back in my undergrad years while reading Dandelion Wine (a superb book to read during a summer when things feel surreal from the effects of heat & humidity.) It's one of those books where you want to post so many quotes and the way his writing makes you feel and really experience the atmosphere of a book. I recommend that one to most anyone at the drop of a hat. So, I am a few chapters in and am enjoying Rucker's writing. I felt nauseous reading the chapter on the wasted guy at the beach which I mean to say Rucker did a great job portraying someone in that situation. I also found the robot chapter interesting since I've never read anything from that point of view(what with me being a sci-fi and cyberpunk newbie.)

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