Slacker candidate Jim Oster had succeeded at one thing since graduation from UC Santa Cruz: marrying Val. Once he lost the biotech job, Jim made ends meet working as a part-time mailman and playing with his homemade scanning-tunneling microscope. Still, life was happy - until Val died. In the miasma of his grief, Jim stumbles onto a strange old house with an odd, round door. He opens it... and the world changes.
The door is no ordinary door. It is a portal to another world: Flimsy. The strange but compelling Weena (nicely packaged as a young woman) arrives from Flimsy to be Jim's guide. As the "cosmic mailman, he has a delivery to make - but first, he needs to meet the Flims.
The world of Flimsy - inside an electron, perhaps inside every electron - is strange, indeed. With a population of several septillion, Flimsy serves as a sort of Purgatory where every soul strives to return to its living world. The inhabitants of Flimsy are either under the thrall of the turnip-shaped jivas or at war with the shape-shifting blue yuels, depending on who you ask. They live off "kessence" and build things from "zickzack."
Mailman Jim's scheduled cosmic delivery might be problematic, but Jim has a more important question on his mind. If everyone goes to Flimsy when they die, could he find Val? With the help of a couple of ghosts and his faithful dog, Droog, Jim takes his biggest job yet.
Sci-fi legend and math geek Rudy Rucker returns in Jim and the Flims, yet one more visit to the strange and often absurd world inside the retired mathematics professor's head. As is his custom, Rucker wraps this snippet of his fiction in some scientific theory, though in this case the string-theory wrapping is quite flimsy. Give the man a few points for the concept that the afterworld lies within nooks and crannies of every atom in our universe. That boggles, dude.
At its core, however, Jim and the Flims devolves to a fairly ho-hum retelling of the eternal battle between good and evil, complete with the requisite confusion over which side is good and which is evil. Rucker makes an interesting, if subtle, point about wasting non-renewable resources, but that small strength is lost in a welter of sophomoric wordplay and serial deus ex machinations.
Fans of thoughtful science fiction will be disappointed by Rucker's lateral shift into flimsy sword and sorcery fantasy; fans of sword and sorcery fantasy will be overjoyed. Count this reviewer among the former.