Software, Wetware, and Freeware is Realware (2000).
Three years since the publishing of Freeware, and a total of eighteen years since the publishing of Software, Rucker once again took his time, thinking of original material and interesting directions to take his robot-human-moldie scenario. Thus, point blank, if you’ve read the three books to this point (or the omnibus containing said three books, natch), then Realware is more of the same stuzzidelic, Rucker-licious stuff. Not a droning on or a plateau of conception, Rucker continues to push the limits and break fresh ground in clever fashion in his wacky wacky world. Reality, and the possibilities for reality that the aliens at the completion of Freeware brought, completely change things. Caught up and pulled in their own direction by it, the group of characters that has amassed in the series to date, return. Yes, the king of the cheeseballs, Randy Karl Tucker, is back to set the reader rolling in the aisles…
But what could Realware cover that hasn’t already been covered? In Software the robots transferred human sentience to robot bodies. In Wetware, they performed the opposite: transferring robot minds into human bodies. And in Freeware, the algal-plastic called immipolex became a home to sentience. What then could Realware bring new to the table? Answer: the alla. Capable of bringing into reality essentially anything the imagination can think of, suffice to say, the Ware world is spun further from our reality. But the alla is not all. Working in conjunction with the matter generating device is the spatio-temporal essence of Om. Almost spiritual, Realware would seem to encapsulate a certain synergy of the great beyond with the metaphysical qualities and manifestations of information/data.
In the end, Realware is just more of the madcap yet intelligent fun that has identified the Ware series to date. Working with ideas similar to Bruce Sterling’s novelette “Kiosk,” the alla (a matter generator) is deployed to full, human effect, with humorous and sobering results. Moldies, immipolex blimps, Meta-martians, peace-keeping flying saucers, hyperspace, wo-wos, and many other hilarious and fascinating ideas flesh out the pages of a Randy Karl Tucker (and Willa Jean), Phil, Yoke, Kev, Babs, and Sta-Hi Mooneyąs adventure through the world twisted upside down (then inside out, then through a washing machine of space-time, then…) by material technology. The latest omnibus is simply titled The Ware Tetralogy, but who knows, maybe there is more to come?