Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

By way of clarification

Occasionally I'm asked a simple question: What the hell does "imipolex" mean? Well... hard to say exactly, but it is most definitely a reference to two of my favorite authors:

1. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow [this is taken from an online concordance]

Imipolex G

242; used as insulation for rocket; a new plastic, aromatic heterocyclic polymer, developed by in 1939. . .by one L. Jamf for IG Farben" 249; details, 249-50; "the company albatross" 261; "a fat file on" 283; "what's haunting [Slothrop] now will prove to be the smell of Imipolex G" 286; "a white knight, molded out of plastic" 436; "Oneirine Jamf Imipolex A4" 464; skinsuit at The Castle, 487; "This is Imipolex, the material of the future." 488; Imipolectique, 490; aromatic polyimide, 576; characteristics of, 699; shroud of, 751; "the Imipolex shroud. Flotsam from his childhood are rising through his attention" 754; See also aromatic rings.

The name Imipolex, in addition to being a pun (imitation pole), obviously stems from a combination of "imido" with a near-reversal of "explode", possibly in analogy with Igelit (IG Farben's PVC) and Igamid (IG Farben's nylon resin). IG Farben's polymers often had alphabetical suffixes (Buna S, Igelit G, Igamid A).
Additionally, here's a good quote:

Imipolex G is the first plastic that is actually erectile [...] its own shape determined by how the Erection of the Plastic shall proceed [...] Alternatives for signaling to the plastic surface were limited.

2. Rudy Rucker, Software [and other novels in the *ware series]

I've heard it argued that the purest form of SF is one which takes a single idea and then runs to Hell and back with it. I don't know if I buy that completely, but if it's true then Freeware is the real stuff, 180 Proof and as smooth as silk. The single concept at the heart of the novel, from which all manner of technological marvels and mind-flummoxing plot twists arise, is the highly structured polymer imipolex. Imipolex is 10th generation Silly Putty, and if you've ever dreamed of making a car or model rocket out of Silly Putty, this book is seriously your ticket.

On its own imipolex is amazing stuff, with a dazzling litany of uses. When augmented with sophisticated software called DIMs (for Designer Imipolex) it can become smart tires, talkative toys, and -- most frequently, it seems -- a gaggling array of talented sex toys. But it's when doped with chipmold, the strange organic multi-processor first encountered in Wetware, that imipolex truly becomes magical. The amazing imipolex-3 is the very flesh and blood of moldies. And this kind of dynamic ligature leaves moldies rather capable in the Mighty Morphin department, as we're told in our first description of Monique...
This is taken from a review of the third *ware novel by John O'Neill; it kinda gets at Rucker's sense of imipolex... but trust me, better you read those novels. I can't recommend them highly enough.

  • It's July 2013.

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