Rudy Rucker has written forty books, both pop science and SF novels in the cyberpunk and transreal styles. He received Philip K. Dick awards for his Software and Wetware. He worked as a professor of computer science in Silicon Valley. He paints works relating to his tales. His stories can be read online his Complete Stories webpage. His for coming novel Juicy Ghosts is about telepathy, immortality, and assassinating an evil, insane President who has stolen an election. Rudy blogs at

The Secret of Life by Rudy Rucker

A 60s college student learns he's a saucer alien. As if he hadn't suspected it all along. As Conrad Bunger faces his true nature, he takes on a series of awesome powers. He can change his face, shrink to the size of a thumb, fly around the Eiffel tower—and hand out joints to everyone at his college's annual student assembly. And this is important because government snipers are out to kill him. Why did youth rebel in the 60s? This transreal book will help you understand how it happened, and what the underlying feelings were.



  • "Rucker is an artist well worth discovering, reading, and keeping up with. The Secret of Life sparkles with deadpan wit and a natural storyteller's flair, blending mathematical speculation, such concepts as Hilbert space, rock'n'roll, drugs, and sex with imaginative ideas worthy of H. G. Wells."

    – Washington Post Book World
  • "One of the writers we will follow into the new future."

    – Raleigh Spectator



Conrad Bunger was sixteen when it first hit him: Someday you'll be dead.

He was at a New Year's Eve dance at the River Valley Country Club in Louisville. It was a much classier scene than Conrad was accustomed to, though he did know many of the other boys and girls, the rich boys in brand-new tuxedos, the girls in pale dresses with thin straps. Conrad had his father's old tux and horrible lumpy dress shoes; he was smaller than the others, a brain, but blending in well enough. His date Linda was dancing with a boy she'd had a crush on since fifth grade, and Conrad was hoping to get drunk.

The coat racks were at the foot of the stairs leading down to the bathrooms. Conrad made his way there and patted down the overcoats, feeling for the happy tumor of a hidden pint. It was easy; the bottles grew as thick as autumn fruit. Conrad drew out a pint of Old Crow and gulped at the strange liquid, vile and volatile stuff that evaporated almost before he could swallow.

With flushed skin, buzzing ears, and the sudden conviction that he was cool, Conrad fumbled the bottle back into its velvet-collared overcoat. A brief wave of sickness. He made for the men's room, eyes and mouth streaming, and drank some water from the sink.

The bathroom was empty, all light and white tile. Mirrors, a stack of clean-smelling linen towels by the sinks, and the urinals across the room. "I'm here by the sinks," thought Conrad, "and it seems impossible that I will ever be over there by the urinals." He began to walk. "Now I am moving through space, and time is going on, and now…" He unzipped and began to piss. "Now, although it seemed inconceivable before, I am on the other side of the room." His mind felt unbelievably clear. "Last year I never thought I'd be drunk at a dance, yet here I am, just as surely as I've crossed this tile floor."

As he started back toward the dance floor, the wider implications hit him. "I can't conceive of being in college, but that will come, too, and when it comes it will feel like now. I will go to college, and marry, and have children, and all the time it will be me doing it, me doing it in some mysteriously moving now. And then I'll die. It seems impossible, but someday I will really die."

Linda wasn't interested in all this; Linda was a tennis player. She and Conrad had gone steady for almost a year, and now all of a sudden at the New Year's Eve dance he was interested in the problem of death. Babbling about it on the dance floor, Conrad wore a heavy, glazed expression that made Linda suspicious.

"Are you drunk? You're acting funny."

"What difference does it make? What difference does anything make? Oh, beautiful Linda, why don't you sleep with me before we die."

"That is just a little out-of-the-question, Conrad. Maybe you should sit down."