SUI GENERIS: A TESTIMONY
by WILLIAM GIBSON
Genuinely sui generis novelists operate at an inherent disadvantage, and all the more so in any
Genre is that dubious bargain whereby the reader is offered (for our present purposes) a novel,
a form whose very name promises a new experience, but offers, in genre, the implicit and
crucial promise of the repetition of previous pleasures.
Rudy Rucker has never trafficked in that repetition, and while he unabashedly loves the genre
in which he tends to be marketed, he transcends it, or perhaps engulfs it, in his singularity.
You‟ll see this said about all too many science fiction writers, given novelty‟s supposed (and
largely spurious, in my view) importance to the genre, but of Rudy it‟s quite literally true. He is
one splendidly odd duck, balanced between pure mathematics on the one hand and
spontaneous bop prosody on the other, while uncounted further hands (or paws, in some
cases) flicker in from their individual Hilbert spaces, bearing cups, wands, alien sex toys,
artifacts out of Roadrunner cartoons, terrible jokes, gleefully fell dooms, and lubricating dabs
of mentholated ichor.
Scarily bright, and a card-carrying Holy Fool who‟s managed to fall off every cliff but the only
really wrong ones, he used to frighten me.
In part, no doubt, because he‟s the only higher mathematician I‟ve ever known, while I am
myself virtually an innumerate. I knew from the very start of our acquaintance (from before,
actually, as I read him before I met him) that he habitually, effortlessly, visited realms I was
literally incapable of envisioning, let alone visiting. He also frightened me because, though
generally convivial, he seemed to me to teeter atop an angelic pinhead of purest Random,
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causing me the constant apprehension that he might at any second do or say literally anything
at all. As I was secretly attempting to negotiate my own life and literary career with the
emergency brake on, this made me complexly uneasy. He seemed starry-eyed with the sheer
joy of forgetting the brakes entirely.
I found him unsettling in another way as well, though that was not so much about him as about
something we had in common. Being at least a decade older than the rest of our cyberpunk
cohort, we were both veterans of (ahem) “the Sixties”. Which was to say that we had once been
somewhere very strange and new indeed, but that that tide had somehow receded, leaving us in
some new but actually markedly unstrange iteration of a world we had once expected to change
utterly. Whenever I ran into Rudy, over the first decade or so of my career, I worried that we
were both actually too old for this. But then I‟d note the shiver of angelic pinhead-wobble, and
in some paradoxical way be comforted thereby. (“And at the time,” Rudy wrote to me recently,
“I thought we were jaded roués!”)
Before I read or met Rudy, I‟d lived for several seasons in Washington, D.C., with a roommate
who at some point went up to New York to see a great retrospective show of the Surrealists,
kindly and hugely formatively bringing me the show‟s catalog as a gift. I had heard of
Surrealism, but had never really put together what it was. That catalog became a sort of Rosetta
Stone for me, a way of decoding and assembling a great many very diverse things that I had
encountered in art and literature, things I had known were similar, in some way, but without
really understanding how.
The capital-s Surrealism, SurrealismTM, was splendid stuff, but I now recognized a similar but
lower-case impulse in virtually everything that had ever attracted me in the popular arts. I saw
it in Mad Magazine (and particularly in its imitators), in Forrest J. Ackerman‟s gloriously
cheesy Famous Monsters Of Filmland, in Rod Serling‟s The Twilight Zone, in Zap Comics. And
I saw it, of course, in the prose science fiction I had grown up with: a folk surrealism, a street
surrealism, entirely free of Breton‟s faux-papal excommunications and other tedious hi-jinx. It
was, I saw, to certain forms of popular art, and most particularly to the flavors of science fiction
that had worked best for me, the equivalent of the ethanol molecules in an alcoholic beverage.
So I filed that one away, and went about my business, such as it was.
Later, encountering first the fiction and then its author, I took it instantly for granted that in
Rudy Rucker I found an exemplar of that very thing, a natural-born American street surrealist,
bordering at times on a practitioner of Art Brute.
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Rudy‟s fiction has a much higher percentage of surrealism molecules than most fiction, science
or otherwise. It has, as moonshiners say when they swirl whiskey in a glass, in order to closely
observe how it settles back down the sides of the glass, “good legs”. Rudy‟s fiction is probably a
bit too strong, in that regard, for some readers, but even the hard stuff, let me assure you, is an
enjoyably acquired taste.
And I‟m no longer afraid of Rudy. We‟re both (even) older, and vibrate now at more
authentically geezeroid frequencies. And I no longer feel that the world outside the window
isn‟t as freaky as the ones we glimpsed back in the Sixties. It is. With bells on.
Now go and read Rudy Rucker, in the 21st century. Dude‟s sui generis. And has good legs.
—17 December 2008, Vancouver
Parentesis J junction (Unión Josephson Unión J)
Brian David Josephson, FRS (born 4 January 1940), is a Welsh theoretical physicist and professor emeritus of physics at the University of Cambridge. Best known for his pioneering work on superconductivity and quantum tunnelling, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 for his prediction of the eponymous Josephson effect, made in 1962 when he was a 22-year-old PhD student at Cambridge. Josephson is the only Welsh person to have won a Nobel Prize in Physics. He shared the prize with physicists Leo Esaki and Ivar Giaever, who jointly received half the award for their own work on quantum tunnelling.
Josephson has spent his academic career as a member of the Theory of Condensed Matter group at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory. He has been a fellow of Trinity College since 1962, and served as professor of physics from 1974 until 2007.
In the early 1970s Josephson took up transcendental meditation and turned his attention to issues outside the parameters of mainstream science. He set up the Mind–Matter Unification Project at the Cavendish to explore the idea of intelligence in nature, the relationship between quantum mechanics and consciousness, and the synthesis of science and Eastern mysticism, broadly known as quantum mysticism. Those interests have led him to express support for topics such as parapsychology, water memory and cold fusion, and have made him a focus of criticism from fellow scientists.
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 Parapsychology
- 3 Awards
- 4 Selected works
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
Early life and career
Josepson was born in Cardiff, Wales, to Jewish parents, Mimi (née Weisbard, 1911–1998) and Abraham Josephson. He attended Cardiff High School, where he credits some of the school masters for having helped him, particularly the physics master, Emrys Jones, who introduced him to theoretical physics. In 1957 he went up to Cambridge, where he read mathematics at Trinity College. After completing Maths Part II in two years, and finding it somewhat sterile, he decided to switch to physics.
Josephson was known at Cambridge as a brilliant, but shy, student. Physicist John Waldram recalled overhearing Nicholas Kurti, an examiner from Oxford, discuss Josephson’s exam results with David Shoenberg, then reader in physics at Cambridge, and asking: “Who is this chap Josephson? He seems to be going through the theory like a knife through butter.” While still an undergraduate, he published a paper on the Mössbauer effect, pointing out a crucial issue other researchers had overlooked. According to one eminent physicist speaking to Physics World, Josephson wrote several papers important enough to assure him a place in the history of physics even without his discovery of the Josephson effect.
He graduated in 1960 and became a research student in the university’s Mond Laboratory on the old Cavendish site, where he was supervised by Brian Pippard. American physicist Philip Anderson, also a Nobel Prize winner, spent a year in Cambridge in 1961–1962, and recalled that having Josephson in a class was “a disconcerting experience for a lecturer, I can assure you, because everything had to be right or he would come up and explain it to me after class.” It was during this period, as a PhD student in 1962, that he carried out the research that led to his discovery of the Josephson effect; Cambridge unveiled a plaque on the Mond Building dedicated to the discovery in November 2012. He was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1962, and obtained his PhD in 1964 for a thesis entitled Non-linear conduction in superconductors.
Discovery of the Josephson effect
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Josephson effect.|
Josephson was 22 years old when he did the work on quantum tunnelling that won him the Nobel Prize. He discovered that a supercurrent could tunnel through a thin barrier, predicting, according to physicist Andrew Whitaker, that “at a junction of two superconductors, a current will flow even if there is no drop in voltage; that when there is a voltage drop, the current should oscillate at a frequency related to the drop in voltage; and that there is a dependence on any magnetic field.” This became known as the Josephson effect and the junction as a Josephson junction.
His calculations were published in Physics Letters (chosen by Pippard because it was a new journal) in a paper entitled “Possible new effects in superconductive tunnelling,” received on 8 June 1962 and published on 1 July. They were confirmed experimentally by Philip Anderson and John Rowell of Bell Labs in Princeton; this appeared in their paper, “Probable Observation of the Josephson Superconducting Tunneling Effect,” submitted to Physical Review Letters in January 1963.
Before Anderson and Rowell confirmed the calculations, the American physicist John Bardeen, who had shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics (and who shared it again in 1972), objected to Josephson’s work. He submitted an article to Physical Review Letters on 25 July 1962, arguing that “there can be no such superfluid flow.” The disagreement led to a famous confrontation in September that year at Queen Mary College, London, at the Eighth International Conference on Low Temperature Physics. When Bardeen (then one of the most eminent physicists in the world) began speaking, Josephson (still a student) stood up and interrupted him. The men exchanged views, reportedly in a civil and soft-spoken manner. Donald G. McDonald described the discussion as “youth versus maturity, daring spirit versus depth of experience, and mathematics versus intuition.” Josephson, as it turned out, was right.
Whitaker writes that the discovery of the Josephson effect led to “much important physics,” including the invention of SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices), which are used in geology to make highly sensitive measurements, as well as in medicine and computing. IBM used Josephson’s work in 1980 to build a prototype of a computer that would be up to 100 times faster than the IBM 3033 mainframe.
Josephson was awarded several important prizes for his discovery, including the 1969 Research Corporation Award for outstanding contributions to science, and the Hughes Medal and Holweck Prize in 1972. In 1973 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics, sharing the $122,000 award with two other scientists who had also worked on quantum tunnelling. Josephson was awarded half the prize “for his theoretical predictions of the properties of a supercurrent through a tunnel barrier, in particular those phenomena which are generally known as the Josephson effects.”
The other half of the award was shared equally by Japanese physicist Leo Esaki of the Thomas Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York, and Norwegian-American physicist Ivar Giaever of General Electric in Schenectady, New York, “for their experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in semiconductors and superconductors, respectively.” Unusually, none of the winners had held professorships before being awarded the prize.
Josephson spent a postdoctoral year in the United States (1965–1966) as research assistant professor at the University of Illinois. After returning to Cambridge, he was made assistant director of research at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1967, where he remained a member of the Theory of Condensed Matter group, a theoretical physics group, for the rest of his career. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1970, and the same year was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship by Cornell University, where he spent one year. In 1972 he became a reader in physics at Cambridge and in 1974 a full professor, a position he held until he retired in 2007.
A practitioner of transcendental meditation (TM) since the early seventies, Josephson became a visiting faculty member in 1975 of the Maharishi European Research University in the Netherlands, part of the TM movement. He also held visiting professorships at Wayne State University in 1983, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1984, and the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1987.
Early interest, transcendental meditation
Josephson became interested in the late sixties in the mind–body problem, and is one of the few scientists to argue that parapsychological phenomena (telepathy, psychokinesis and other paranormal themes) may be real. In 1971 he began practising transcendental meditation (TM), which had become popular with several celebrities, most famously the Beatles.
Winning the Nobel Prize in 1973 gave him the freedom to work in less orthodox areas, and he became increasingly involved – including during science conferences, to the irritation of fellow scientists – in talking about meditation, telepathy and higher states of consciousness. In 1974 he angered scientists during a colloquium of molecular and cellular biologists in Versailles by inviting them to read the Bhagavad Gita (5th – 2nd century BCE) and the work of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the TM movement, and by arguing about special states of consciousness achieved through meditation. “Nothing forces us,” one scientist shouted at him, “to listen to your wild speculations.” Biophysicist Henri Atlan wrote that the session ended in uproar.
In May that year Josephson addressed a symposium held to welcome the Maharishi to Cambridge. The following month, at the first Canadian conference on psychokinesis, he was one of 21 scientists who tested claims by Matthew Manning, a Cambridgeshire teenager who said he had psychokinetic abilities; Josephson apparently told a reporter that he believed Manning’s powers were a new kind of energy. He later withdrew or corrected the statement.
Josephson said that Trinity College’s long interest in the paranormal meant that he did not dismiss these ideas out of hand. Several presidents of the Society for Psychical Research had been fellows of Trinity, and the Perrott-Warrick Fund, set up in Trinity in 1937 to fund parapsychology research, is still administered by the college. He continued to explore the idea that there is intelligence in nature, particularly after reading Fritjof Capra‘s The Tao of Physics (1975), and in 1979 took up a more advanced form of TM, known as the TM-Sidhi program. According to Anderson, the TM movement produced a poster showing Josephson levitating several inches above the floor. Josephson argued that meditation could lead to mystical and scientific insights, and that, as a result of it, he had come to believe in a creator.
Fundamental Fysiks Group
|Fundamental Fysiks Group in 1975. Left to right: Jack Sarfatti, Saul-Paul Sirag, Nick Herbert, and Fred Alan Wolf (seated)|
Josephson became involved in the mid-seventies with a group of physicists associated with the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, who were investigating paranormal claims. They had organized themselves loosely into something called the Fundamental Fysiks Group, and had effectively become the Stanford Research Institute’s (SRI) “house theorists,” according to historian of science David Kaiser.
There was a lot of popular and government interest at the time in quantum mechanics – the American government was financing research at SRI into telepathy – and physicists able to understand it found themselves in demand. The Fundamental Fysiks Group used ideas from quantum physics, particularly Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement, to explore issues such as action at a distance, clairvoyance, precognition, remote viewing and psychokinesis.
In 1976 Josephson travelled to California to meet two leading members of the group, laser physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, authors of Mind Reach (1977). Targ and Puthoff had set up a parapsychology (“psi“) lab at SRI and had had papers published about their work – which included testing later-discredited claims by Uri Geller that he could make objects move using psychokinesis – in Nature and other peer-reviewed journals. The San Francisco Chronicle covered Josephson’s visit.
Josephson co-organized a symposium on consciousness at Cambridge in 1978, publishing the proceedings as Consciousness and the Physical World (1980), with neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran. A conference on “Science and Consciousness” followed a year later in Cordoba, Spain, attended by physicists and Jungian psychoanalysts, and addressed by Josephson, Fritjof Capra and David Bohm (1917–1992).
By 1996 he had set up the Mind–Matter Unification Project at the Cavendish Laboratory to explore intelligent processes in nature. In 2002 he told Physics World: “Future science will consider quantum mechanics as the phenomenology of particular kinds of organised complex system. Quantum entanglement would be one manifestation of such organisation, paranormal phenomena another.”
Reception, views on science
Matthew Reisz wrote in Times Higher Education in 2010 that Josephson has long been one of physics’s “more colourful figures.” His support for unorthodox causes has attracted criticism from fellow scientists since the 1970s, including from Philip Anderson. Josephson regards the criticism as prejudice, and believes that it has served to deprive him of an academic support network.
He has repeatedly criticized “science by consensus,” arguing that the scientific community is too quick to reject certain kinds of ideas. “Anything goes among the physics community – cosmic wormholes, time travel,” he argues, “just so long as it keeps its distance from anything mystical or New Age-ish.” Referring to this position as “pathological disbelief,” he holds it responsible for the rejection by academic journals of papers on the paranormal. He has compared parapsychology to the theory of continental drift, proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener (1880–1930) to explain observations that were otherwise inexplicable, which was resisted and ridiculed until evidence led to its acceptance after Wegener’s death.
Science writer Martin Gardner criticized Josephson in 1980 for complaining to the New York Review of Books, along with three other physicists, about an article by J. A. Wheeler that ridiculed parapsychology. Several physicists complained in 2001 when, in a Royal Mail booklet celebrating the Nobel Prize’s centenary, Josephson wrote that Britain was at the forefront of research into telepathy. Physicist David Deutsch said the Royal Mail had “let itself be hoodwinked” into supporting nonsense, although another physicist, Robert Matthews, suggested that Deutsch was skating on thin ice given the latter’s own work on parallel universes and time travel.
In 2004 Josephson criticized an experiment by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry to test claims by Russian schoolgirl Natasha Demkina that she could see inside people’s bodies using a special kind of vision. The experiment involved her being asked to match six people to their confirmed medical conditions (plus one with none); to pass the test she had to make five correct matches, but made only four. Josephson argued that this was statistically significant, and that the experiment had set her up to fail. One of the researchers, Richard Wiseman, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, responded that Josephson had no record of publishing on parapsychology. Keith Rennolis, professor of applied statistics at the University of Greenwich, supported Josephson’s position.
Josephson’s reputation for promoting unorthodox causes was cemented by his support for the ideas of water memory and cold fusion, both of which are rejected by mainstream scientists. Water memory is purported to provide an explanation for homeopathy; it is mostly dismissed by scientists as pseudoscience, although Josephson has expressed support for it since attending a conference at which French immunologist Jacques Benveniste first proposed it. Cold fusion is the hypothesis that nuclear reactions can occur at room temperature. When Martin Fleischmann, the British chemist who pioneered research into it, died in 2012, Josephson wrote a supportive obituary in the Guardian and complained to Nature that its obituary had failed to give Fleischmann due credit. Antony Valentini of Imperial College London withdrew Josephson’s invitation to a 2010 conference on the de Broglie-Bohm theory because of his work on the paranormal, although it was reinstated after complaints. ]
Saint Mooney (2031)
Babs Mooney (2033)
Darla Starr (2004) + Whitey Mydol (2000) + Emul (2028) + Berenice (2028)
Yoke Starr (2031)
Joke Starr (2031)
Dom Stagnaro (1998) + Alice Drift (2000)
Tre Dietz (2027) + Terri Stagnaro (2026)
Dolf Dietz (2049)
Ike Stagnaro (2028)
Wren Dietz (2052)
Berdoo Scragg (1994) + Rainbow Plenty (1999)
Tempest Plenty (1994)
Starshine Plenty (2021) + Duck Tapin (2016)
Everooze (2042) + Andrea (2043)
Ouish (2050 + Xanana (2049)
Monique (2052) + Xlotl (2052)
Kurt Gottner (2000) + Eve Gottner (2001)
Phil Gottner (2030)
Jane Gottner (2032)
For Al Humboldt, Embry Rucker, and Dennis Poague
Cobb Anderson would have held out longer, but you don‟t see dolphins every day. There were
twenty of them, fifty, rolling in the little gray waves, wicketting up out of the water. It was good
to see them. Cobb took it for a sign and went out for his evening sherry an hour early.
The screen door slapped shut behind him and he stood uncertainly for a moment, dazed by the
late afternoon sun. Annie Cushing watched him from her window in the cottage next door.
Beatles music drifted out past her.
“You forgot your hat,” she advised. He was still a good-looking man, barrel-chested and
bearded like Santa Claus. She wouldn‟t have minded getting it on with him, if he weren‟t so . . .
“Look at the dolphins, Annie. I don‟t need a hat. Look how happy they are. I don‟t need a hat
and I don‟t need a wife.” He started toward the asphalt road, walking stiffly across the crushed
Annie went back to brushing her hair. She wore it white and long, and she kept it thick with
hormone spray. She was sixty and not too brittle to hug. She wondered idly if Cobb would take
her to the Golden Prom next Friday.
The long last chord of “Day in the Life” hung in the air. Annie couldn‟t have said which song
she had just heard—after fifty years her responses to the music were all but extinguished—but
she walked across the room to turn the stack of records over. If only something would happen,
she thought for the thousandth time. I get so tired of being me.
At the Superette, Cobb selected a chilled quart of cheap sherry and a damp paper bag of boiled
peanuts. And he wanted something to look at.
The Superette magazine selection was nothing compared to what you could get over in Cocoa.
Cobb settled finally for a love-ad newspaper called Kiss and Tell. It was always good and weird
. . . most of the advertisers were seventy-year-old hippies like himself. He folded the first-page
picture under so that only the headline showed. PLEASE PHEEZE ME.
Funny how long you can laugh at the same jokes, Cobb thought, waiting to pay. Sex seemed
odder all the time. He noticed the man in front of him, wearing a light-blue hat blocked from
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If Cobb concentrated on the hat he saw an irregular blue cylinder. But if he let himself look
through the holes in the mesh he could see the meek curve of the bald head underneath. Skinny
neck and a light-bulb head, clawing in his change. A friend.
Farker finished rounding up his nickels, then turned his body around. He spotted the bottle.
“Happy Hour came early today.” A note of remonstrance. Farker worried about Cobb.
“It‟s Friday. Pheeze me tight.” Cobb handed Farker the paper.
“Seven eighty-five,” the cashier said to Cobb. Her white hair was curled and hennaed. She had a
deep tan. Her flesh had a pleasingly used and oily look to it.
Cobb was surprised. He‟d already counted money into his hand. “I make it six fifty.” Numbers
began sliding around in his head.
“I meant my box number,” the cashier said with a toss of her head. “In the Kiss and Tell.” She
smiled coyly and took Cobb‟s money. She was proud of her ad this month. She‟d gone to a
studio for the picture.
Farker handed the paper back to Cobb outside. “I can‟t look at this, Cobb. I‟m still a happily
married man, God help me.”
“You want a peanut?”
“Thanks.” Farker extracted a soggy shell from the little bag. There was no way his spotted and
trembling old hands could have peeled the nut, so he popped it whole into his mouth. After a
minute he spit the hull out.
They walked towards the beach, eating pasty peanuts. They wore no shirts, only shorts and
sandals. The afternoon sun beat pleasantly on their backs. A silent Mr. Frostee truck cruised
Cobb cracked the screw-top on his dark-brown bottle and took a tentative first sip. He wished
he could remember the box number the cashier had just told him. Numbers wouldn‟t stay still
for him anymore. It was hard to believe he‟d ever been a cybernetician. His memory ranged
back to his first robots and how they‟d learned to bop . . .
“Food drop‟s late again,” Farker was saying. “And I hear there‟s a new murder cult up in
Daytona. They‟re called the Little Kidders.” He wondered if Cobb could hear him. Cobb was
just standing there with empty colorless eyes, a yellow stain of sherry on the dense white hair
around his lips.
“Food drop,” Cobb said, suddenly coming back. He had a way of re-entering a conversation by
confidently booming out the last phrase which had registered. “I‟ve still got a good supply.”
“But be sure to eat some of the new food when it comes,” Farker cautioned. “For the vaccines.
I‟ll tell Annie to remind you.”
“Why is everybody so interested in staying alive? I left my wife and came down here to drink
and die in peace. She can‟t wait for me to kick off. So why . . .” Cobb‟s voice caught. The fact of
the matter was that he was terrified of death. He took a quick, medicinal slug of sherry.
“If you were peaceful, you wouldn‟t drink so much,” Farker said mildly. “Drinking is the sign of
an unresolved conflict.”
“No kidding,” Cobb said heavily. In the golden warmth of the sun, the sherry had taken quick
effect. “Here‟s an unresolved conflict for you.” He ran a fingernail down the vertical white scar
on his furry chest. “I don‟t have the money for another second-hand heart. In a year or two this
cheapie‟s going to poop out on me.”
Farker grimaced. “So? Use your two years.”
Cobb ran his finger back up the scar, as if zipping it up. “I‟ve seen what it‟s like, Farker. I‟ve had
a taste of it. It‟s the worst thing there is.” He shuddered at the dark memory . . . teeth, ragged
clouds . . . and fell silent.
Farker glanced at his watch. Time to get going or Cynthia would . . .
“You know what Jimi Hendrix said?” Cobb asked. Recalling the quote brought the old
resonance back into his voice. “When it‟s my time to die, I‟m going to be the one doing it. So as
long as I‟m alive, you let me live my way.”
Farker shook his head. “Face it, Cobb, if you drank less you‟d get a lot more out of life.” He
raised his hand to cut off his friend‟s reply. “But I‟ve got to get home. Bye bye.”
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Cobb walked to the end of the asphalt and over a low dune to the edge of the beach. No one was
there today, and he sat down under his favorite palm tree.
The breeze had picked up a little. Warmed by the sand, it lapped at Cobb‟s face, buried under
white whiskers. The dolphins were gone.
He sipped sparingly at his sherry and let the memories play. There were only two thoughts to
be avoided: death and his abandoned wife Verena. The sherry kept them away.
The sun was going down behind him when he saw the stranger. Barrel-chest, erect posture,
strong arms and legs covered with curly hair, a round white beard. Like Santa Claus, or like
Ernest Hemingway the year he shot himself.
“Hello, Cobb,” the man said. He wore sungoggles and looked amused. His shorts and sportshirt
“Care for a drink?” Cobb gestured at the half-empty bottle. He wondered who, if anyone, he
was talking to.
“No thanks,” the stranger said, sitting down. “It doesn‟t do anything for me.”
Cobb stared at the man. Something about him . . .
“You‟re wondering who I am,” the stranger said, smiling. “I‟m you.”
“You me.” The stranger used Cobb‟s own tight little smile on him. “I‟m a mechanical copy of
The face seemed right and there was even the scar from the heart transplant. The only
difference between them was how alert and healthy the copy looked. Call him Cobb Anderson 2.
Cobb2 didn‟t drink. Cobb envied him. He hadn‟t had a completely sober day since he had the
operation and left his wife.
“How did you get here?”
The robot waved a hand palm up. Cobb liked the way the gesture looked on someone else. “I
can‟t tell you,” the machine said. “You know how most people feel about us.”
Cobb chuckled his agreement. He should know. At first the public had been delighted that
Cobb‟s moon-robots had evolved into intelligent boppers. That had been before Ralph
Numbers had led the 2001 revolt. After the revolt, Cobb had been tried for treason. He focused
back on the present.
“If you‟re a bopper, then how can you be . . . here?” Cobb waved his hand in a vague circle,
taking in the hot sand and the setting sun. “It‟s too hot. All the boppers I know of are based on
supercooled circuits. Do you have a refrigeration unit hidden in your stomach?”
Anderson2 made another familiar hand-gesture. “I‟m not going to tell you yet, Cobb. Later
you‟ll find out. Just take this . . . ” The robot fumbled in its pocket and brought out a wad of
bills. “Twenty-five grand. We want you to get the flight to Disky tomorrow. Ralph Numbers will
be your contact up there. He‟ll meet you at the Anderson room in the museum.”
Cobb‟s heart leapt at the thought of seeing Ralph Numbers again. Ralph, his first and finest
model, the one who had set all the others free. But . . .
“I can‟t get a visa,” Cob said. “You know that. I‟m not allowed to leave the Gimmie territory.”
“Let us worry about that,” the robot said urgently. “There‟ll be someone to help you through the
formalities. We‟re working on it right now. And I‟ll stand in for you while you‟re gone. No one‟ll
be the wiser.”
The intensity of his double‟s tone made Cobb suspicious. He took a drink of sherry and tried to
look shrewd. “What‟s the point of all this? Why should I want to go to the Moon in the first
place? And why do the boppers want me there?”
Anderson2 glanced around the empty beach and leaned close. “We want to make you immortal,
Dr. Anderson. After all you did for us, it‟s the least we can do.”
Immortal! The word was like a window flung open. With death so close nothing had mattered.
But if there was a way out . . .
“How?” Cobb demanded. In his excitement he rose to his feet. “How will you do it? Will you
make me young again, too?”
“Take it easy,” the robot said, also rising. “Don‟t get over-excited. Just trust us. With our
supplies of tank-grown organs we can rebuild you from the ground up. And you‟ll get as much
interferon as you need.”
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The machine stared into Cobb‟s eyes, looking honest. Staring back, Cobb noticed that they
hadn‟t gotten the irises quite right. The little ring of blue was too flat and even. The eyes were,
after all, just plastic, unreadable plastic.
The double pressed the money into Cobb‟s hand. “Take the money and get the shuttle
tomorrow. We‟ll arrange for a young man called Sta-Hi to help you at the spaceport.”
Music was playing, wheedling closer. A Mr. Frostee truck, the same one Cobb had seen before.
It was white, with a big freezer-box in back. There was a smiling giant plastic ice-cream cone
mounted on top of the cab. Cobb‟s double gave him a pat on the shoulder and trotted up the
When he reached the truck, the robot looked back and flashed a smile. Yellow teeth in the
white beard. For the first time in years, Cobb loved himself, the erect strut, the frightened eyes.
“Good-bye,” he shouted, waving the money. “And thanks!”
Cobb Anderson2 jumped into the soft-ice-cream truck next to the driver, a fat short-haired man
with no shirt. And then the Mr. Frostee truck drove off, its music silenced again. It was dusk
now. The sound of the truck‟s motor faded into the ocean‟s roar. If only it was true.
But it had to be! Cobb was holding twenty-five thousand-dollar bills. He counted them twice to
make sure. And then he scrawled the figure $25000 in the sand and looked at it. That was a lot.
As the darkness fell he finished the sherry and, on a sudden impulse, put the money in the
bottle and buried it next to his tree in a meter of sand. The excitement was wearing off now,
and fear was setting in. Could the boppers really give him immortality with surgery and
It seemed unlikely. A trick. But why would the boppers lie to him? Surely they remembered all
the good things he‟d done for them. Maybe they just wanted to show him a good time. God
knows he could use it. And it would be great to see Ralph Numbers again.
Walking home along the beach, Cobb stopped several times, tempted to go back and dig up that
bottle to see if the money was really there. The moon was up, and he could see the little sand-
colored crabs moving out of their holes. They could shred those bills right up, he thought,
Hunger growled in his stomach. And he wanted more sherry. He walked a little further down
the silvery beach, the sand squeaking under his heavy heels. It was bright as day, only all black-
and-white. The full moon had risen over the land to his right. Full moon means high tide, he
He decided that as soon as he‟d had a bite to eat he‟d get more sherry and move the money to
Coming up on his moon-silvered cottage from the beach he spotted Annie Cushing‟s leg
sticking past the corner of her cottage. She was sitting on her front steps, waiting to snag him
in the driveway. He angled to the right and came up on his house from behind, staying out of
her line of vision.