The Hacker and the Ants

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Rucker, Rudy. The Hacker and the Ants. New York: Morrow/AvoNova (hardcover), 1994. New York: AvoNova-Avon, 1995.

A kinder, gentler form of cyberpunk and a very important novel for the theme of the human/machine interface. Set in a near-future "Silicon Valley" and associated areas, HatA is a first-person narrative of a middle-aged, divorced hacker with two kids and a highly active libido, ending with the hacker having a good relationship with his kids, an ex-wife engaged to be married to someone else, a steady woman-friend and a developing relationship with a very young woman, and the hacker's conclusion, after a vision at Yosemite, "that, yes, even rocks are alive. ¶ So who needs smart machines?" (last two sentences of HatA). The action of the novel features cyberspace, robots, TV, AI, VR, cybernetic waldos, and both virtual and cybernetic "ants," plus good biology about biological ants—plus a couple huge and disreputable Silicon Valley firms. Cyberspace here is, indeed, a (virtual) space for adventure but also a place of nightmares and horrors. The "great work" the key hackers in the novel pursue is the creation of true artificial, intelligent life. Cf. and contrast the films TRON and SHORT CIRCUIT, and such cyberpunk novels as W. Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy. (RDE, 29/09/95)