Review: Teens defend Earth from aliens—and real estate developers—in Rudy Rucker's Hylozoic

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Rudy Rucker's new novel, Hylozoic (Tor Books, $25.95), is a fast-moving and enjoyable romp through the new world he created in his groundbreaking 2007 novel, Postsingular. In that novel, Rucker's group of teenage and twenty-something characters initiated a new world where mind-expanded humans can communicate telepathically, not only with each other but with objects of all sizes, from individual atoms to the Earth itself, and can teleport themselves or objects anywhere on Earth, and sometimes even into other parallel universes.

In Hylozoic, Rucker's post-singular Earth is invaded by members of several alien races seeking to exploit the now-more-interesting venue. A race of walking/floating real-estate-developer birds wants to take over Earth by reducing its gnarl and making all matter (including humans) stupider. Huge flying manta rays want to addict and enslave humans to pilot them. A mysterious alien couple embodied as a flying tuning fork and a harp have their own, more complex goals. Perilous if often lighthearted adventures ensue for Rucker's young protagonists as they figure out what is happening and how to save Earth and humanity.

It's all a fun romp, and Rucker makes it work by providing a cutting-edge hard-science basis for the world's transformation, which keeps the story from degenerating into simplistic light fantasy while also making his young protagonists sympathetic and likable despite their new superhuman capabilities. Rucker's protagonists have adapted to their post-singular world just as readily as modern teenagers have adapted to our own new world of mass global communication, the Internet and virtual-reality gaming while retaining all of their previous youthful preoccupations and angst.

Read these novels. They are like candy with a light, fluffy outside and a hard, dense core. And nobody can eat just one. I look forward to further novels in this series.