Master of Space and Time
By Rudy V. B. Rucker; Read by Scott Grunden
5 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Themes: / Science Fiction / Humor / Physics / Quantum Mechanics / Alternate Universe / Time Travel / Robots /
“Madcap inventor Harry Gerber is hopeless when it comes to surviving in the real world. So he uses his genius to twist the laws of science and create his own tailor-made universe.”
Joe Fletcher has a 9-to-precisely-5 job at Softtech, a crappy software company in New Jersey. He hates his job, so much so he’s programmed a piece of software to alert him to the precise nano-second of the completion of his requisite 40 hours a week. On one particular Friday in the futuristic 1990s Joe hoofs it out to the company parking lot for the commute home only to find his former partner, Harry Gerber, an “out-of-it” genius inventor waiting for him. Joe hadn’t seen Gerber, his former partner in their bankrupt engineering firm, in more than a year so he’s rather surprised to see a two-inch tall Harry sitting on the steering wheel of his 1956 Buick. In fact, after closer inspection there are a whole swarm of tiny Harrys in the Buick. Some are standing on the gearshift, others are running around on the dashboard, each is smaller than the next. The Harrys tell Joe about the machine that they will assemble on Saturday that will make them both masters of space and time by Sunday afternoon. Most important for Joe, Harry and his girlfriend, the improbably named Sondra Tupperware, they’ll need to get some red gluons – a kind of subatomic particle found only below the “Planck threshold.” The “blunzer” – the device in question, will grant them the ability to do absolutely anything by just mentally manipulating the very nature of reality – and they know it will work since it already has!
Rudy Rucker is playing with old Heinleinian tropes to good comic effect in Master Of Space And Time. On offer is an homage to The Puppet Masters and I Will Fear No Evil, the former being an alien invasion by brain slugs, the latter being about a man who gets the ultimate in transgendered wishes. There’s lots of original material here too, the writing is Hard SF-lite with lots of physics for undergraduates. It comes off as a comic version of the ultimate power fantasy, or as an SF take on the old “three wishes” tales. One other bit of fun, the chapter names are all either self-referential or jokey. On the net there seems to be quite a bit of controversy about the religious and sexual aspects of the book. I found it hard to understand why that would be – the accusations of ‘homophobia’ and a ‘high-handed, anti-christian’ attitude seem pretty insubstantial, at least based on the content of the novel I was listening to. The whole caper is fun, unpredictable and fast moving. It makes for a breezy listen – it won’t blow your mind, but it will entertain.
In Master Of Space And Time narrator Scott Grunden has some of the funniest lines ever read in an audiobook. At one point early in the novel he’s performing the sounds of a ginormous iguana-cum-Godzilla, (WHEEEENK-WHEEEENK- WHEEEENK! GUH-ROOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOO!) the scene goes on an on. Another treat, at the point at which Joe is switched bodily into his idea of the most sexy woman in the world Grunden changes his voice even when his cadence doesn’t. It pleases the heck out of me that Blackstone is venturing a little farther back in time for many of its new Science Fiction additions. Master Of Space And Time was first published in the 1984, I had no clue it even existed until this audiobook edition came out. Look for a film version of Master Of Space And Time sometime in 2009 with a screenplay by Daniel Clowes of Ghost World fame.
Posted by Jesse Willis