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Science Fiction novel by Rudy Rucker. * 1/2

Spaceland: A Novel of the Fourth Dimension attempts to go beyond Edwin Abbott's classic novel Flatland, and explain what would happen if a four-dimensional being contacted a member of modern Western society. Joe Cube is stagnating at a Silicon Valley startup, and not getting enough from his wife Jena. After a particularly disappointing New Years' Eve, 2000, a four-dimensional woman named Momo contacts him, presenting Joe with a scheme to protect her world and make Joe fabulously rich at the same time. Joe bites, of course, leading to his being given super four-dimensional powers, being chased by Las Vegas hoodlums and Satanic extradimensional beings. In the end, Joe Cube saves the Universe from destruction.

There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very, very, good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Hoping to find a new Rucker gem, I actually paid for the hardback version of this book when I saw it. I was in for a letdown. Rudy Rucker is just like the legendary little girl when it comes to science fiction; how the author of "Big Jelly", "Monument to the Third International", and "The Last Einstein-Rosen Bridge" can write something this disappointing is beyond me. The writing style is, frankly, infantile, reading as if it was written by an eight-year-old. Rucker's four-dimensional universe, "The All", is drawn for us as if in crayon, by a kindergartener. One might think the story was written to explain four-dimensional concepts to young children except there's far too much sex for that.

To tell the truth, the first two chapters are the worst, and a bit of the good Rucker peeks through from time to time after that. The plot was interesting enough (between lurches) to keep me reading it. There is actual character development here; not all of the characters are (ahem) one-dimensional. The novel adequately describes the mathematical concepts involved, even if physics is completely ignored. More's the pity. It doesn't make up for the almost constant wincing you'll be doing should you pick this book up.

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