Dr Joe Fletcher is in a dead-end programming job since the collapse of his company. But in the car on the way home he is accosted by a two-inch version of his old partner, mad inventor Harry Gerber, who tells him that Harry is now the Master of Space and Time, who can make any wish come true. This is the start of a life changing adventure for Joe and his wife Nancy.
Published in the mid-80s, this doesn't just show its age, it shows the age of the worst 1930s pulps. It combines "mad inventor who doesn't know how his inventions work" and "be careful with what you use your three wishes for" with a mish-mash of nonsense technobabble, all acted out by unpleasant, stupid and loutish cartoon characters. I think it is meant to be funny, and possibly deep.
The only reason I finished reading this was that I was on a train with no other reading matter.
Rucker dubs chaotic -- "complicated but not random" -- systems 'gnarly' (from "a knot in the wood of a tree", by way of California surfer slang for "complicated surf conditions").
This book-and-disc package explains and implements various a-life programs, for you to play with, experiment with, and help develop your intuition about the behaviour of 'gnarly' systems.
But it all feels rather trivial and rushed -- not up to Rucker's usual standard at all.
Young newlyweds Thuy, a hypertext novelist, and Jayjay, a gamer and brain-enhancement addict, are living a popular live-action media life. But now alien races that have already gone through this transformation notice Earth for the first time and begin to arrive to exploit both the new environment and any available humans. Some of them are real estate developers, some are slavers, and some just want to help, but who can tell the difference? Who can save humanity from the alien invasions? It might well be reality-media stars Thuy and Jay-jay.