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Software

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Cobb Anderson created the "boppers," sentient robots that overthrew their human overlords. But now Cobb is just an aging alcoholic waiting to die, and the big boppers are threatening to absorb all of the little boppers--and eventually every human--into a giant, melded consciousness. Some of the little boppers aren't too keen on the idea, and a full-scale robot revolt is un Cobb Anderson created the "boppers," sentient robots that overthrew their human overlords. But now Cobb is just an aging alcoholic waiting to die, and the big boppers are threatening to absorb all of the little boppers--and eventually every human--into a giant, melded consciousness. Some of the little boppers aren't too keen on the idea, and a full-scale robot revolt is underway on the moon (where the boppers live). Meanwhile, bopper Ralph Numbers wants to give Cobb immortality by letting a big bopper slice up his brain and tape his "software." It seems like a good idea to Cobb.

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Cobb Anderson created the "boppers," sentient robots that overthrew their human overlords. But now Cobb is just an aging alcoholic waiting to die, and the big boppers are threatening to absorb all of the little boppers--and eventually every human--into a giant, melded consciousness. Some of the little boppers aren't too keen on the idea, and a full-scale robot revolt is un Cobb Anderson created the "boppers," sentient robots that overthrew their human overlords. But now Cobb is just an aging alcoholic waiting to die, and the big boppers are threatening to absorb all of the little boppers--and eventually every human--into a giant, melded consciousness. Some of the little boppers aren't too keen on the idea, and a full-scale robot revolt is underway on the moon (where the boppers live). Meanwhile, bopper Ralph Numbers wants to give Cobb immortality by letting a big bopper slice up his brain and tape his "software." It seems like a good idea to Cobb.

30 review for Software

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    "You should think of me as a person. My personality is human. I still like eating and . . . and other things." This combination of human and robot fused into one – a prime philosophic enigma addressed squarely in Rudy Rucker’s Software. Take a close look at the gal above, a young lady who could be Misty from the novel talking about her identity. Twenty-five-year old, randy Stanley Hilary Mooney Jr. aka Sta-Hi Mooney is certainly attracted, big time, but then again he starts thinking of the wires "You should think of me as a person. My personality is human. I still like eating and . . . and other things." This combination of human and robot fused into one – a prime philosophic enigma addressed squarely in Rudy Rucker’s Software. Take a close look at the gal above, a young lady who could be Misty from the novel talking about her identity. Twenty-five-year old, randy Stanley Hilary Mooney Jr. aka Sta-Hi Mooney is certainly attracted, big time, but then again he starts thinking of the wires behind her eyes - it would be like having sex with a machine, an inanimate object. Rucker’s 1982 cyberpunk classic is hardly the only piece of fiction to present the human as robot puzzle. Or, should I say robot as human? Recall beautiful Rachael Rosen from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the 2014 film Ex Machina featuring stunning Alicia Vikander as Ava. With our world’s rapidly evolving computer technology, maybe such an alluring, sexually charged creation isn’t that many years away. Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics formulated back in the 1940s dark ages demand robots slavishly abide by an overarching ironclad rule: humans first, robots second. Ralph Numbers, a forward-thinking bopper (boppers are robots with real brains created some years prior by the novel’s main character, old man Cobb Anderson) says phooey to such inferior human twaddle: “Humans first and robots last? Forget it! No way!” Ralph reflects with wry satisfaction on how he taught other boppers to reprogram their robot circuitry to transcend Asimov’s laws and thus attain true freedom. Not only did Cobb Anderson build the first generation of real brain boppers but he gave his boppers the capacity, in turn, to produce other more sophisticated, more intelligent boppers to the point where those more advanced iterations developed consciousness. And now those fully conscious boppers would like nothing more than to expand universal consciousness and mystical awareness of the oneness of life by converting inferior forms of intelligence such as humans, little-minded boppers and diggers (worker robots) into reprogrammed extensions of their own big bopper minds. If all this sounds crazy, you are far from mistaken. In his lecturers From Here to Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature, Michael D. C. Drout proclaimed Software and Freeware, two books in Rudy Ruker's Ware Trilogy, as the weirdest good books you will ever read. Perhaps not surprisingly, Software won the Philip K. Dick award. What was the award, I wonder? Perhaps a year’s supply of speed or tabs of LSD? Reading Rudy Rucker's turbo-injected spinning at the speed of light fiction, I wouldn’t be surprised. But seriously folks, I suspect more than drugs, what really infuses Rudy’s fiction with its edgy brilliance is his background in advanced mathematics and computer science. And please keep in mind the author has over two dozen novels and other works of fiction and nonfiction to his credit. Fortunately for lovers of SF, Rudy Rucker is still going strong at age seventy-one. Any reader who enjoys breaking a mental sweat over paradoxes and the metaphysical maze of computational machines, artificial intelligence and the Turing test will have ample material to chew on in the pages of Software. This includes the appearance of a robotic twin for both Cobb and Sta-Hi. Cobb2 can flop and flounder with the best of them; Sta-Hi2 turns out to be the obedient, reliable, hard-working son his dad always wanted. Are these doubles human enhancements or human-deficient? There’s also Robert Nozick's thought experiment of brain transference: the brain from person A (including all past memories) is placed in the body of person B. After the operation person B thinks he is person A. Is his thinking accurate? Is B entitled to take on the rights and responsibilities of A, including living with A’s wife and children? Such a thought experiment is further complicated in Software. Is Cobb still Cobb when his brain (software) is given a new bopper body (hardware)? Such dilemmas go back to the mind-body problem conceived by such thinkers as René Descartes. I purposely went light on plot - there’s simply too many freaky chutes and ladders, including a trip to the moon, a brain-drinking party in Florida, a bopper freezer in a Mr. Frostee ice cream truck and enough reefer to keep even Stay-Hi hi. This is a very good book, a very weird book and a very crazy book. I always wondered if another novel could take the hallucinogenic cake and join PKD’s Dr. Bloodmoney as the strangest, most bizarre, twisted novel I have ever read. For this distinction, Software wins the Glenn C. Russell prize. Born in 1946, Rudy Rucker is not only an American science fiction author and among the founders of cyberpunk but also an expert in advanced mathematics and computer science.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Totally crazy fun. I haven't had this much sheer delight in crazy robot action in ages. The boppers are a blast. Get this: turn the whole meme of eating brains into a gigantic robot enterprise to upload meat people into imperishable robot bodies, turn the moon into a robot paradise fueled by program evolution, add a serious stoner meat-person to join in the fun up in the moon, and make sure we've got a lot of funny and light and subversive dialogue, and we've got SOFTWARE. Truly, this is one of th Totally crazy fun. I haven't had this much sheer delight in crazy robot action in ages. The boppers are a blast. Get this: turn the whole meme of eating brains into a gigantic robot enterprise to upload meat people into imperishable robot bodies, turn the moon into a robot paradise fueled by program evolution, add a serious stoner meat-person to join in the fun up in the moon, and make sure we've got a lot of funny and light and subversive dialogue, and we've got SOFTWARE. Truly, this is one of those gems that should be a cult classic rocking around in people's mental spaces and cropping up every once in a while in regular conversation. We're going to Disneyland! (Okay, wait, let's place this in its proper time, shall we? 1982. This is "officially" the start of the cyberpunk movement, but it shares very little in common with Neuromancer. It's more of a 60's stoner movie with crazy philosophizing robots behaving like zombies for people's meat brains for the stuff we hold in 'em, with weird homages to the traditional "human" lifestyle that's more epic comedy than a serious piece of love. Think Asimov's Robots meeting Hunter S. Thompson.) I love it! But that's not to say that there isn't some issues with plot or payout at the end of the novel, because there isn't much of that there. But honestly? I just don't care. Its wild and fun and funny and I'm thrilled because it's only the first of the four in the quadrology. :) The mark of a good book is sometimes all about how much fun we have; not focusing on silly things like plot. :) This is an idea-lover's book and it's written very well, transporting us away into a hellofafun pot-dream.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is one of those books I am surprised more people have not read or at least heard of. This won the first ever Philip K. Dick Award and book two in the series won the award years later. Not that I put all of my stock in awards but whatever will encourage people to read this book I will mention. Part of me badly wants to rate this book 5 stars but there were a few things that bothered me enough for a final 4 1/2 star rating. I experienced some difficulty starting but once the action kicked in, This is one of those books I am surprised more people have not read or at least heard of. This won the first ever Philip K. Dick Award and book two in the series won the award years later. Not that I put all of my stock in awards but whatever will encourage people to read this book I will mention. Part of me badly wants to rate this book 5 stars but there were a few things that bothered me enough for a final 4 1/2 star rating. I experienced some difficulty starting but once the action kicked in, the difficulty disappeared. I was, and still am, completely confused as to why Sta-Hi was so important to the boppers. Maybe I missed something? And Annie just flat out annoyed me. What was her purpose? Past these issues, I loved the book. ALL science fiction and cyberpunk fans should give this a chance. Rucker created a disturbingly unique future setting, one full of possibilities, which has me excited to start the next in the series. I liked the two main characters, Cobb and Sta-Hi (surprisingly enough) and I really loved the ending. More than a few distressing things happened to the characters. Extremely distressing, as in there were live brains involved. My ick factor was near maxed out so bonus points have been provided and you have been warned. This book is original, even by today's standards, so considering this was written in the early 80's, I think it is important and reflective of the ideas included. Rucker explores some weighty topics, forces his characters to ask some serious questions, to make seriously permanent decisions. I have read few science fiction books that explored what it is to be human so well as this book does by exploring artificial intelligence. By saying I am a mirror, and considering who said that, well, Rucker begins to spell everything out for the reader who wants to look past the surface story of drugs and action. I want to be a United Cults Minister with a drunkenness subroutine. Stuzzy. I love books with memorable, made-up slang. Highly recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Re-read of this cyberpunk classic, I read it long before joining goodreads. Great story about sentient robots, old age, transmigration of the soul. All SF fans should give this try, especially if you enjoyed William Gibson's "Neuromancer" or Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    Kind of dated, but fun the way I like SF to be. Biggest issue was that all the female characters were brainless bimbos.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I came to cyberpunk from an interesting vector: I discovered it through Marvel's 2099 comic series, of all places, and then watched the Matrix, and only after that became aware of authors like Gibson, Cadigan, and Stephenson. So while I've read a lot of cyberpunk, and have a fondness for it as a genre, it's a patchwork sort of fondness, which is why I'd never heard of this until recently, despite it's role as a primum movens within cyberpunk literature (something that William Gibson talks about I came to cyberpunk from an interesting vector: I discovered it through Marvel's 2099 comic series, of all places, and then watched the Matrix, and only after that became aware of authors like Gibson, Cadigan, and Stephenson. So while I've read a lot of cyberpunk, and have a fondness for it as a genre, it's a patchwork sort of fondness, which is why I'd never heard of this until recently, despite it's role as a primum movens within cyberpunk literature (something that William Gibson talks about in the introduction of the edition I read). Like a lot of science fiction, the philosophical angle to this one is as important to the plot - robot builder Cobb Anderson goes to Mars, has his body broken down, and gets reborn inside a robot shell. Which sounds straightforward, but Rucker also throws in a lot of questions about identity and self in with that - does the robot Cobb still have an essential "Cobbness" to him, even though there's no physical continuation between the two? Is there a "soul" that can be transferred, even if we can transfer things like memories? Even wider than that, is a person still a person when so many of those essential human qualities (the need to sleep, eat, procreate, the fear of death) are taken away from them? It's heady stuff, and like any good philosopher Rucker doesn't completely answer them as much as lay them before the reader for them to provide their own answer. When reading Software, I think it's important to remember where and when it's coming from - compared to other novels of its cohort(books like 2010, Foundation's Edge, and the Ringworld Engineers) there's a quantum leap of difference in terms of how the book understands technology and our relationship with it that might cause a modern reader to undervalue how important and influential a book like this would have been.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    From my booklog, 12-8-1991: OK+ on reread. Sta-hi vs Mr Frostee! Lots of period California hippie humor, circa 1982. See my note re the 4 WARES for $1! Deal!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This book is set in a dystopian future where the Boomer cohort has been shipped off to Florida to live on free government provided food drops, and rent is free, because Social Security ran out before 2020 (when the book takes place) and riots forced the government to somehow provide for the huge aging cohort. In the book, the aging Boomers are called pheezers - for "freaky geezers" - many of whom still cling to their youthful rebelliousness (remember this book was written before the 80s - when m This book is set in a dystopian future where the Boomer cohort has been shipped off to Florida to live on free government provided food drops, and rent is free, because Social Security ran out before 2020 (when the book takes place) and riots forced the government to somehow provide for the huge aging cohort. In the book, the aging Boomers are called pheezers - for "freaky geezers" - many of whom still cling to their youthful rebelliousness (remember this book was written before the 80s - when many of the former hippies switched "allegiance" and became responsible members of society, settling down, settling for "straight world" jobs, educational pathways, and so forth). Some drugs are legalized by the 21st C - and although there's no internet or cell phones in the book, there are startling advances in robotics such that robots can be essentially physically identical with specific individuals and robots have achieved "autonomy" or freedom. The revolt of the robots - deciding to disobey humans - was assisted by the book's protagonist, computer scientist and pheezer Cobb Anderson. The autonomous robots were thereafter banned from Earth and banished to the Moon, where they diligently work on industries/mining that cannot be performed on Earth, subsequently trading their products such as tank-grown replacement human organs, for cash. Thus, there is a trading relationship between Earth and Moon - but the robots in charge of the moon robot colony - called "big boppers" want more,much more. Meanwhile, the worker robot bees on the moon, some of whom are called diggers, dislike their bopper overlords, and a revolution is about to break out that may overthrow the boppers and their nefarious plans. The book revolves around Cobb's yearning for a new life - immortality. He strikes a Devil's bargain with the boppers - and travels to the colony assured by them that he will be made immortal. His "software" - personality and memories - will be transferred to a replica robot "the hardware." Unfortunately he becomes a robot remote, not exactly an completely autonomous robot like the boppers - and the entire scheme depends on the boppers preserving his "tape" the program, that is his personality and memories, which are encoded on tape. That means his life depends on a thin sliver of plastic - not terribly permanent, despite the illusion of immortality given that his mind/memories have been transferred into a non-aging robot. There are non-stop scenes of drug use but not that much sexual prurience per se. There is one potentially exceptionally violent scene at the beginning of the sci-fi novel - but the near victim of vivisection managed to escape. I almost didn't bother reading the book, which I regarded as trashy although it did win a prestigious sci-fi prize back in the 80s. It was over-the-top, provocative - it has a distinctly anti-feminist slant. I could "handle" the attitude having grown up in the pre-feminist era. But many people would not enjoy reading a book that doesn't seem to contain one positive portrayal of women (although Annie and Cobb finally seem to be bonding toward the end of th book, and Wendy and Sta-Hi in the end seem to have reached some sort of contentment - both women do not come off positively when they are first introduced - ditto for most if not all of the female characters in the book). It's possible to read the book as a product of its age and laugh but some readers today might be put off by the anti-feminist slant. The book seemed fevered - although it's well written, by and large - maybe because Cobb and other characters, maybe most of the characters, are either drunk, stoned, or robots - some evil - that Cobb or Sta-Hi (the other protagonist) are trying to dodge, cheat, beat up, evade, escape from, and so forth. The book doesn't lack for action and it's of course a page turner considering the reader wants to find out if Cobb does achieve eternal youth and so forth. There was one particularly hilarious scene when Cobb figures out a sub routine that has been built into him as a robot - what he needs to do to feel drunk (since as a robot, alcoholic beverages don't affect him, nor does he actually require food or drink) and thus "enjoy" himself socially, at parties/dances and so forth. This isn't a particularly pleasant book but as a fast, trashy read, I suppose it's acceptable. The reader does want to find out what happens to Cobb and the other characters - I won't spoil the spectacular ending, so it's up to the reader to find out by making it to the end of the book. On a less sensationalistic note, it's interesting to read how one author envisioned life 40 years into the future - how society would cope with the Boomers, if Social Security really did dry up. There aren't any gadgets - a notable lack of imagining what would happen with respect to computers - computers are still seen in the book as taking up a room and so forth. The book was written before the advent of personal computers - but there was always speculation about how advanced robots might become. The book, albeit to me at least, rather trashy - and as I said, it does contain one scene of near gratuitous violence plus endless more or less degrading anti-feminist portrayals of women - still, it "works" I suppose as escape fiction. In the book, women are essentially sex objects or drugged out skanks, "mindless" robot vixens or aging virago's. None of the depictions of women are attractive although, as I mentioned above, Ann and (robot) Cobb eventually do form a bond, and Wendy and Sta-Hi seem headed to at least temporarily become a couple by the book's end. Interestingly, there is at least a moment of insight into why otherwise rather cartoon-like Sta-Hi became the way he became - after his father dies and he is talking with (robot) Cobb - Sta-Hi's shell of cool, or detachment (drugged out or straight) is shattered as he and the reader realize that it was his home problems, problems with his parents, that led to his self-destructive behavior. Also, poignantly, his dad, who was always critical of his rebellious son, "loves" robot Sta-Hi since he has assumed at least a superficially "normal" life - unfortunately, that was an illusion and the reality that his actual son never changed, is yet another "insightful" or "pathetic" plot twist. The book otherwise has some nuanced characterization despite characters or robots being often portrayed as cartoons; Cobb - both as human and robot - is definitely multi-faceted. He helped the robots free themselves - but prior to making his deal with the Devil, he can't free himself from the fear of death, and so self-medicates himself with drink daily. He's become an old though majestic man who has taken to sitting under palm trees on the beach meditatively drinking cheap sherry, trying to quell his thoughts of death, and the wife he abandoned. Later, as a robot, he feels he has it made - but his existence depends on a tape running in a mobile computer stored in a refrigerated truck, and meanwhile, robots, including him, are banned on Earth. This book is a fast, easy read - and for a trashy sci-fi novel from that pre-80s era, I suppose it's fun in a way. I read it in two days - and I'm a slow reader - so a fast reader could probably read it in a few hours. It's not poorly written, and it is interesting or fun to read it mostly. Still, despite the prestigious prize the book won back in the 80s, I can't give it more than two stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Coming to this book again for the first time in about twenty years was interesting because I could hardly remember a thing about it. But having recently aquired it's sequel (Wetware), I thought I'd better go back and read this again to refresh my memory. I was suprised how light and fluffy it was. Rucker again touches upon some of his favourite themes (the computatability of consciousness, the logical impossibility of a being designing a consciousness equal to one's own - Kurt Godel gets a cameo Coming to this book again for the first time in about twenty years was interesting because I could hardly remember a thing about it. But having recently aquired it's sequel (Wetware), I thought I'd better go back and read this again to refresh my memory. I was suprised how light and fluffy it was. Rucker again touches upon some of his favourite themes (the computatability of consciousness, the logical impossibility of a being designing a consciousness equal to one's own - Kurt Godel gets a cameo appearance!) but I thought they were handled in heavy handed, childish and superficial ways. I've seen far more sophisticaed handling of the same ideas elsewhere. The story itself was entertaining enough but it all seemed a bit pointless. On one hand it seems like this was aimed at the youth market, particularly with characters like "Sta-Hi", but there was a lot of bad language and drug taking so it's not really the sort of thing you'd want your children to read. I've only rated it two stars but it's a high two stars. I'll definitely go on and read the sequel and see how that goes before deciding whether to read on any more in this series.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    it's weird to think of this as the beginning of cyberpunk because it's nothing at all like what i think of as cyberpunk. doesn't have any of the noirish elements and nobody's running around inside a computer. this seems more like some underground 60s comic, lotsa zany action and stoned philosophizin', mr. natural in space or something like that. not that i don't like it-- this book is a lot of fun (and i can see why it won the first ever philip k. dick award). it's just that (as with White Light it's weird to think of this as the beginning of cyberpunk because it's nothing at all like what i think of as cyberpunk. doesn't have any of the noirish elements and nobody's running around inside a computer. this seems more like some underground 60s comic, lotsa zany action and stoned philosophizin', mr. natural in space or something like that. not that i don't like it-- this book is a lot of fun (and i can see why it won the first ever philip k. dick award). it's just that (as with White Light, which i also just read), it has no emotional component. like, at all. it's all just a funny series of events that makes you think about consciousness, maybe. but by the time it was done, i was ready for it to be done. though i imagine i will read the others someday.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joey Comeau

    Oh Rudy Rucker, what a wacky bastard. His 'ware trilogy and 'the hacker and the ants' are my favourites of his. It's been so long since I read this, but I still have such strong positive feelings when I see the cover that I had to give it 4 stars when Goodreads recommended it to me. It is supposed to be Biopunk, or some were genepunk genre, but really it is science fiction written by a goddamn hippy mathematician. Delightful!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zardoz

    I'm kinda shocked that I never read this one back in 87. Cyber Punk always meant Gibbson to me and I never followed up with his contemporaries. The book is a little dated. Gotta love the punk gargon and all the boomers retiring to Florida to have druken orgys before they shuffle off to oblivion. Hold on that last one isn't so far fetched. It's refreshing to read about A.I. with a plausible explanation on how it cane about and with no pesky build in three laws. The civil war between the machines wa I'm kinda shocked that I never read this one back in 87. Cyber Punk always meant Gibbson to me and I never followed up with his contemporaries. The book is a little dated. Gotta love the punk gargon and all the boomers retiring to Florida to have druken orgys before they shuffle off to oblivion. Hold on that last one isn't so far fetched. It's refreshing to read about A.I. with a plausible explanation on how it cane about and with no pesky build in three laws. The civil war between the machines was a nice touch as well. I'll have to read the sequels at some point.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Quais

    This shit is the shit. Stuzzy! Can you wave with it?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Twin Lovers

    For lovers of New Wave Science Fiction, Cyber-Punk, Post-Modernism, and Transrealism. This novel was the fist to win the PKD award and that's how I came across it (being an a great admirer of PKD). I am a musician and have been working with Transrealism in sound or ways to further the concept. Little did I know that Rudy Rucker originally coined the term. This is just a great discovery and I look forward to reading other books by this author. The novel feels fresh and contemporary even in 2018. For lovers of New Wave Science Fiction, Cyber-Punk, Post-Modernism, and Transrealism. This novel was the fist to win the PKD award and that's how I came across it (being an a great admirer of PKD). I am a musician and have been working with Transrealism in sound or ways to further the concept. Little did I know that Rudy Rucker originally coined the term. This is just a great discovery and I look forward to reading other books by this author. The novel feels fresh and contemporary even in 2018. Also reminds me of the old computer game "Tass Times in Tone Town". This book is 'very tass'..'very tass indeed'...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hanscom

    A quick, entertaining read, and I liked some of the ideas for evolving AI rather than trying to build it from scratch. Pity about the racist Japanese “accent” one character uses for a while, though. What was acceptably humorous in the early 80s (well, if you weren’t Asian, at least) is cringeworthy now.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    Really badly dated. Surely Rucker's Boppers weren't even believable in 1982.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    I can't remember if I was the first to read a chapter, or if my husband was, the night I fell in love with Software. Either way, it was my chapter to read. We already had the lights out, the baby was already asleep in her bassinet. Earlier in the story, Sta-hi Mooney (a stoner and one of the protagonists) had been kidnapped by a gang called the Little Kidders. They were a mongrel group, but all wore brightly colored shoes. Sta-hi was trapped with his head sticking out of a hole in a table, listen I can't remember if I was the first to read a chapter, or if my husband was, the night I fell in love with Software. Either way, it was my chapter to read. We already had the lights out, the baby was already asleep in her bassinet. Earlier in the story, Sta-hi Mooney (a stoner and one of the protagonists) had been kidnapped by a gang called the Little Kidders. They were a mongrel group, but all wore brightly colored shoes. Sta-hi was trapped with his head sticking out of a hole in a table, listening to the gang-members discuss how much they enjoyed eating brains. It was uncomfortable to read out loud, but I kept going. If I had been reading to myself, maybe it wouldn't have been such a shock. I might have paused and processed what was happening. It might not have affected me so much having the words flow through my own head, but these were flowing out of my mouth. Through me, one of the Little Kidders was saying how much they enjoyed the moment when they scooped out the speech center of their victim. Sta-hi escapes and, later, the kidnapping incident is mentioned to a bopper (AI/robot) who was completely dismissive of human moral concerns. They explained that, embedded in the Little Kidders was a bopper with the capabilities to digest the brains and "tape" them. In other words, to upload the contents of that brain through the appearance of ingestion. Bopper morality does not have anything to say about cannibalism. Instead, the fact that the brain was being uploaded made the act morally positive, because that person could now be merged into one of the Big Boppers and become closer to The One (bopper god). What struck me so much about that moment was that it was so logical and contrary to my visceral reactions to the content. I had to stop and consider the bopper's position. At that point, it was easy to still come down on Sta-hi's side. There was lack of consent, there was the inevitability that parts would be lost as the human's ingested brain-matter instead of the bopper. But I had to consider, from the perspective of a machine who sees humans as biological machines, was this act moral for one machine to do to another? Why do I think it's moral if one machine is non-consensually taking apart another and absorbing their programming, but not for people? Do I think that? What if it is consensual? Rucker doesn't attempt to present any of this as an answer, to convince the reader that the boppers are correct or incorrect. He presents the issue fairly. Is my "soul" my continuity of consciousness? Is it the brain patters that make me *me*? Can it be transferred? If it is transferred and a copy has been made, do I still exist? Am I still me? Is immortality worth trusting an alien being with everything that I am? If the essence of *me* can be be altered or subjugated without my consent or knowledge, am I still me? Every question is left hanging in the air, for the reader to think about rather than decide on. I am a sucker for transhumanist themes, maybe because I'm both eager and afraid that such technology might happen during my lifetime. I want to be immortal, but I'm afraid that I will only be creating another me, with this one dying anyway. I am curious to see how all of our philosophizing and speculation holds up when we know the answer (if such an answer can be known).

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Agranoff

    This 1982 cyberpunk classic is a must read for Science fiction fans. I am not sure why others read science fiction but I read it because the ability for the stories to expand my thinking. Out of date in some ways Software holds up very well and that might be because Rudy Rucker is a genius, for real a genius. A mathematician and computer scientist Rucker writes science fiction novels no one else could match. Inventiveness, radical thinking and pretty comical through out. Software is closer to tra This 1982 cyberpunk classic is a must read for Science fiction fans. I am not sure why others read science fiction but I read it because the ability for the stories to expand my thinking. Out of date in some ways Software holds up very well and that might be because Rudy Rucker is a genius, for real a genius. A mathematician and computer scientist Rucker writes science fiction novels no one else could match. Inventiveness, radical thinking and pretty comical through out. Software is closer to traditional Science fiction or cyberpunk than some of Rucker’s other books like White light, Space Time Donuts or Mathaticians in Love which exist in Rucker’s own invented sub-genre of Transrealism. Rucker brings a tongue in cheek sense of humor to his work, while software is not quite as knee slapping as others it is a great work of Sci-fi. The story of an aging hippie Cobb Anderson a anarchist revolutionary who is dying in 2020 Florida, to poor to afford a new heart he is saved by his creations. Boppers are robots, that evolved to have artificial intelligence thanks to upgrades designed by Cobb. He wanted to create a revolutinary type of robots that resisted being slaves to human. The renegade Boppers live on the moon intend to give Cobb immortality, in the body of a robot. The questions of what is reality? What does life really mean? They are all here is the first book of four in Rucker’s most popular series. Software does dip it’s toes in the trans real water, as Cobb’s major contribution to the robot revolution is teaching one of his 12 orginal boppers to overwrite Asimov’s laws. In a sense that in the most important thing cyberpunk and Rucker are doing here is breaking Asimov’s laws, which are often enforced throughout science fiction. Another one of my favorite parts is when one human character watches the process of another human's body being taken apart and being mechanical. Rucker does a great job in the scene of making Organic life as we know seem totally disgusting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pvw

    On Earth live the Pheezers, a generation of constantly drunk old-timers. By this time in the future, artificially produced organs are cheap and drunks survive for decades by simply replacing wasted livers with new ones at will. On the moon live the Boppers, the first generation of robots that have learned to 'bop', which means having conscious thoughts and reflections. Because they became sentient, they fought for and obtained their independence from Earth. But humans and Boppers still get along On Earth live the Pheezers, a generation of constantly drunk old-timers. By this time in the future, artificially produced organs are cheap and drunks survive for decades by simply replacing wasted livers with new ones at will. On the moon live the Boppers, the first generation of robots that have learned to 'bop', which means having conscious thoughts and reflections. Because they became sentient, they fought for and obtained their independence from Earth. But humans and Boppers still get along and there is mutual trade, especially the moon-produced artificial organs are a popular export. This balanced peace is threatened by a new generation of robots, the Big Boppers, who have sizes varying from an ice-cream van to a starship, a hotel or even an entire factory. Big Boppers have names like BEX, DAX, GAX and even TEX and MEX. Amidst this turmoil we have the adventures of the Pheezer Cobb Anderson, the scientist who taught the Boppers to bop. Anderson is accompanied by the young junkie Stay-High and on the moon the two team up with Ralph Numbers, the former pet robot of Anderson, which was also the first one that started to bop. An entertaining story overall, although Rucker's crazy ideas and inventions greatly surpass his ability to tell an engaging tale. But if only for the totally absurd world, this book is certainly worth reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aj

    Software by Rudy Rucker is a gritty, gripping science-fiction novel that explores cyberpunk themes in a retro (Pulp or early Golden Age) format. Software feel like reading an old Amazing Stories or Astounding Science Fiction magazine. The slim volume and direct prose make Software feel slightly and deliciously subversive. Winner of the inaugural Philip K. Dick award in 1982, Software is a clear influence on many other science fiction writers, most notably Richard K. Morgan and his Takeshi Kovacs Software by Rudy Rucker is a gritty, gripping science-fiction novel that explores cyberpunk themes in a retro (Pulp or early Golden Age) format. Software feel like reading an old Amazing Stories or Astounding Science Fiction magazine. The slim volume and direct prose make Software feel slightly and deliciously subversive. Winner of the inaugural Philip K. Dick award in 1982, Software is a clear influence on many other science fiction writers, most notably Richard K. Morgan and his Takeshi Kovacs trilogy. Rucker creates a world in which robots have broken Asimov’s laws of robotics and become self-aware and free, taking up residence on the moon. Cobb Anderson, the scientist who set this rebellion in motion, is now an aging ‘pheezer’ in Florida, slowly drinking himself to death. The story begins almost immediately as Anderson is approached by a representative of the robots, known as boppers, with the offer of immortality. What follows is a terse, action-packed adventure that presents interesting science-fiction concepts beside bits of lurid imagery and unsubtle social commentary. Read my entire review at the Used Books Blog.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Enzo

    "Software" by Rudy Rucker poses the one thing most Science Fiction writers dread. The loss of the 3 Laws of Robotics and shows the evolution of Robots to a point in which they consider the Human soul or the "it" of life as the very definition of Software. Therefore Human traits, feelings, memories, actions, and desires. Can all be mapped and moved if necessary. Well as you might have figured that didn't fly well with humans. Which makes this novel a short but very interesting read. As part of a T "Software" by Rudy Rucker poses the one thing most Science Fiction writers dread. The loss of the 3 Laws of Robotics and shows the evolution of Robots to a point in which they consider the Human soul or the "it" of life as the very definition of Software. Therefore Human traits, feelings, memories, actions, and desires. Can all be mapped and moved if necessary. Well as you might have figured that didn't fly well with humans. Which makes this novel a short but very interesting read. As part of a Tetralogy I can't wait to see what happens in the other novels. I am very tempted due to the short reads to just go on reading. But alas can't be done. "Software" features good characters specially Cobb Anderson who initially was the one who reprogrammed the Robots to eliminate the original 3 Laws of Robotics. The Robots or Boppers as they prefer to be called, wish to thank Anderson with immortality. Anderson is all for it, now in his old age. But is surprised at the price and requirements. He sees the logic and decides. Get the Paperback its a solid read, totally enjoyable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Sparks

    I loved this. My only complaint is it is too short--it doesn't feel finished at the end. But it's totally hilarious. I'm no good at synopsis, but this is pretty classic sci-fi--robots attempting to steal human's "software" and add it to their massive processor. I love the words he makes up--like pheezer, for "freaky geezer" and his endearing characters. I love the way his universe is so recognizable, even though it is so strange. And it's really wacky, but as one blurb on the back says, there is I loved this. My only complaint is it is too short--it doesn't feel finished at the end. But it's totally hilarious. I'm no good at synopsis, but this is pretty classic sci-fi--robots attempting to steal human's "software" and add it to their massive processor. I love the words he makes up--like pheezer, for "freaky geezer" and his endearing characters. I love the way his universe is so recognizable, even though it is so strange. And it's really wacky, but as one blurb on the back says, there is an internal logic to his "evocation of the century."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Clint

    Fantastic! Everything I like about sci-fi is captured in this book. Somehow the first things that come to mind are Phillip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut. As the foreword by William Gibson states, Rudy seems capable of doing anything at any time. His narratives twist through the bizarre experiences of his characters. The material is funny, fantastically original, and very naughty and edgy. Something like the Illuminati books ... but with a much more coherent narrative. Wonderful! Love it! Great!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ike Sharpless

    I've been trying to catch up on various scifi-related classics that I somehow missed out on, so I read this and Wetware recently, and was entertained but not particularly impressed. The premise was fun and the plot progressed reasonably quickly, but it all seemed crudely juvenile and one-dimensional.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ashryn

    Hrm... Interesting ideas, but the characters are so wooden. It reads like an old fashioned movie, and the characters are secondary to the story which isn't particularly complex. There's a nice thread of philosophy running through it which would have been worth expanding further via character interactions or experiences.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed Abdi Osman

    This one was a solid SF book,it had good direct prose and it was a fun,enjoyable read. It was also thoughtprovoking,smart with its ideas,the characters was very well done. I agree with the cover blurb that it is a classic Cyperpunk novel. I could have as easily rated it 4 stars,it was that good but i didnt because i have a feeling the other books in the series will be even better.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I'm leading an online book discussion for this in June 2011. If anyone wants to read it with me, you can download a free copy here: http://manybooks.net/titles/ruckerrot....

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kent Frazier

    An interesting take on robots that lies somewhere between Asimov and Terminator, but there were no characters for whom I felt much affinity. Amusing enough that I'll probably finish at least another of the tetralogy... we'll see if I make thru them all...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Hare

    My copy of the book has a much more hilarious cover featuring an 80s aerobics girl and a humanoid robot--neither of whom appear in the book?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nick Sconce

    Very inspiring and a fresh writing style!

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