×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

White Light
     

White Light

4.5 48
by Rudy Rucker, John Shirley (Foreword by)
 

See All Formats & Editions

Felix Rayman spends the day teaching indifferent students, pondering his theories on infinity, and daydreaming. When his dreams finally separate him from his physical body, Felix plunges headfirst into a multidimensional universe beyond the limits of space and time — the place of White Light.

Overview

Felix Rayman spends the day teaching indifferent students, pondering his theories on infinity, and daydreaming. When his dreams finally separate him from his physical body, Felix plunges headfirst into a multidimensional universe beyond the limits of space and time — the place of White Light.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781888869170
Publisher:
Wired Books, Incorporated
Publication date:
09/15/1997
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.01(w) x 7.48(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


IN THE GRAVEYARD


Then it rained for a month. I started smoking again. Noise/ Information ... I was outside with a hat on.

    Wednesday afternoon, I walked up Center Street to the graveyard on Temple Hill. The rain was keeping the others away, and it was peaceful. I stood under a big twisting tree, a beech with smooth gray hide made smoother by the rain running down it, tucks and puckers in the flesh, doughy on its own time-scale.

    In the rain, under the tree in the graveyard, I was thinking about the Continuum Problem. Georg Cantor, father of our country, unearthed it in 1873 and lost his mind trying to solve it.

    The light flickered and I could believe that spirits were pressing up to me. Would I sell my soul to solve the Continuum Problem, they wanted to know. Let's see the solution. Let's see the soul.

    It was hard at first to tell if the deal actually came off. Four years before, I'd had a chance to ask the White Light about the Continuum Problem. It was on Memorial Day during the 'Nam war and there were guys with skinny necks and flags ... whew! "And what about the continuum?" I'd asked, serious, pincering up a pencil with triple-jointed fingers. "Relax, you're not ready," was the answer — or more the feeling that the Answer was not going to be something I could write down in symbolic logic.

    But I'd kept working at it, sharpening my inner eye so I could catch and name most of those bright glimpses ... code the idea up in an elegant formulation, a magic spell which could bring theflashback. I was ready in the rain, in the graveyard, hoping to cheat the shades.

    There was one stone on Temple Hill I liked particularly. Emily Wadsworth, 1793, epitaph: "Remember that you must die." I found it refreshing ... this welling up of human intelligence, of the reality of existence. I'd first seen the stone a few months earlier, read it, felt happy, but then! A black flyspeck become fly spiralled up from the stone and headed for me, If I land on you, you will die ... I ran.

    But I was back, there by the beech tree's flowing trunk, watching the chutes and ladders, the midway of my mind; believing (why not) that the spirits were offering the solution of the Continuum Problem to me. The patterns grew more fantastic, and I hung on, naming them quickly and without sinking, afloat on the rising flood ...

    The rain has picked up, I realize after a time. I look about for better shelter and pick a small mausoleum near the Wadsworth plot. I hurry over and try the door. Double doors, glass with iron grillwork. One opens, and I go in. There is an ordinary wooden door set into the floor. I tear it off the hinges and run down the staircase. More doors, I throw them behind me. Stairs, doors, black light ... I run faster, catching up. Soon I hear the coffin, bumping and groaning down the stairs only a few steps ahead of me, I leap! And land in it, red satin, you understand, a clotted ejaculation ...

    "But this is not mathematics, Mr ...?"

    "Rayman. Felix Rayman," I reply. They are wearing dark suits with vests. Gold watch chains and wingtip shoes. The International Congress of Mathematicians, Paris, 1900.

    David Hilbert takes the podium. He's talking about mathematical problems in general, leading up to his personal list of the top 23 unsolved problems.

    He's little, with a pointed beard and a good speaking style. The first problem on his list is the Continuum Problem, but what catches my attention is the preliminary remark: "If we do not succeed in solving a mathematical problem, the reason frequently consists in our failure to recognize the more general standpoint from which the problem before us appears only as a single link in a chain of related problems."

    I search the crowd for the faces of Klein or Minkowski ... I'm sure they're here. But the faces are indistinct and Hilbert's German is suddenly incomprehensible. A clod of earth falls on me from the ceiling. I get up and leave.

    The exit door gives into a shadowy tunnel. The catacombs of Paris. I walk on, holding a candle, and every twenty paces or so the tunnel branches. I go left, left, right, left, right, right, right, left ... My only desire is to avoid falling into a pattern.

    Occasionally I pass through small chambers where bones are stored. The monks have built walls out of the thighbones, cords of greasy fuel for the eternal fires; and behind these walls they have thrown the smaller bones. The walls of femurs are decorated with skulls, set into stacks to form patterns — checkerboards, maps, crosses, Latin words. I see my name several times.

    Some two thousand branchings into the labyrinth my mind is clear and I can remember every turn I have made. At each branching I am careful to break yet another possible rule for how I am choosing my path. If I continue forever, perhaps I can travel a path for which there is no finite description. And where will I be then? The skulls know.

    I blow out my candle and sit in one of Death's chambers to listen. There is a faint, unpleasant smell and a quiet sifting of dust from the bones' imperceptible crumbling. In the labyrinth, the city of Death, it is only quiet. "We are sleeping."

    Perhaps I sleep too. It is hard to tell here, but it seems that I did complete that infinite journey through the tunnels; that they drew narrower and I more flexible; and that I traveled a path which cannot be described.

    As the trip ended I was an electron moving along a nerve fiber, up the spinal cord and into the brain, my brain. It was raining on my face and I tried to sit up. But my body wouldn't move. It just lay there, cooling in the October rain.

Meet the Author

Rudy Rucker (1946) is an American mathematician, computer scientist, and author. He is considered one of the founders of the cyberpunk movement and has been celebrated for both his science fiction and his books on mathematics and the universe. In 1982 he began his most famous series The Ware Tetralogy with Software followed by Wetware in 1988, both of which won Philp K. Dick Awards.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

White Light 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sighs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hailpaw smiled. "Thanks, I hope I can become a warrior soon!" He said excitedly, his green eyes lit up.~•••|Hailpaw|•••~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good nite gtg to sleep
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scoops up the kit in her mouth and carries it to Rockstars den result 2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blade... who ever wants to see your ugly bloody face. Murder you kill kits. How dare you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Yes i guess so Coldclaw. And good Scorchviper. Let me know if I can be of assistance." She began to groom herself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Want to adopt a kit? Go to spider's revenge result one to adopt a kit before they are all adopted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The water doesnt o down. It just sits in a pol in his mouth. He is dead
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FYI: The clan is at esirnus (sunrise backwards) see ya there
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Runs off, crying
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grounded for how long. Locked out of where?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There
Guest More than 1 year ago
White Light presents the concept and question of 'how infinite is infinity' (which I never got in school even with a college degree in Math), in a surreal sci-fi quest for God. A fun ride for atheists and stoners alike, well grounded in physical reality and established math theory, and spiced with an out-of-body experience that takes the narrator through Purgatory, narrowly avoids Hell, and finally to Heaven.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic, by far one of my personal favorites. The reading is a little odd and perhaps difficult to follow for those not inclined in mathematics. Nevertheless, this book stretches the mind to better understand infinity in a direction not normally used. This book certainly draws your emotions into the text cheering and jeering for the characters. This book also exhibits that weird quality about mathematicians making odd math jokes. This gives this book a light-hearting, yet incredibly alluring transcendancy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will do yu two i am a guy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can i be falconkit?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Hi! In case you didnt know, Finchkit ran away.)