Di Filippo, Paul 1954–
Di Filippo, Paul 1954–
(Philip Lawson, a joint pseudonym)
Born October 29, 1954, in Woonsocket, RI; son of Frank (a manager of a textile firm) and Claire Louise (a bookkeeper) Di Filippo; companion of Deborah Newton (a designer). Ethnicity: "Italian and French." Education: Attended Rhode Island College, 1973-76.
Home and office—Providence, RI. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Rhode Island Blue Cross, programmer, 1980-82; worked at Brown University Bookstore, 1987-94; full-time writer, 1994—.
Science Fiction Writers of America.
Nebula nominee, 1987, for "Kid Charlemagne," and 1992, for "Lennon Spex"; British Science Fiction Award, best short story of 1994, for "The Double Felix"; World Fantasy Award nominee, 2001, for "Karuna, Inc"; Hugo Award nominee, 2002, for A Year in the Linear City.
The Steampunk Trilogy (contains "Hottentots," "Victoria," and "Walt and Emily"), Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 1995.
Ribofunk, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 1996.
Fractal Paisleys, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 1997.
Lost Pages, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 1998.
Strange Trades, Golden Gryphon Press (Urbana, IL), 2001.
Little Doors, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2002.
Babylon Sisters and Other Posthumans, Prime Books (Canton, OH), 2002.
Neutrino Drag, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2004.
The Emperor of Gondwanaland, and Other Stories, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Shuteye for the Timebroker, Thunder's Mouth (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of the collection Destroy All Brains, Pirate Writings.
Ciphers, Permeable Press (San Francisco, CA), 1997.
(As Philip Lawson, with Michael Bishop) Would It Kill You to Smile?, Longstreet (Atlanta, GA), 1998.
(As Philip Lawson, with Michael Bishop) Muskrat Courage, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Joe's Liver, Cambrian Publications (San Jose, CA), 2000.
A Year in the Linear City (novella), PS Publishing (Harrowgate, England), 2002.
A Mouthful on Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicanalia, Wildside Press (Holicong, PA), 2002.
Spondulix, Cambrian Publications (San Jose, CA), 2003.
Fuzzy Dice, PS Publishing (Harrowgate, England), 2003, I Books, 2004.
Harp, Pipe, and Symphony, Prime Books (Canton, OH), 2004.
Creature from the Black Lagoon: Time's Black Lagoon, DH Press (Milwaukie, OR), 2006.
Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct (graphic novel), illustrated by Jerry Ordway, Wildstorm, 2006.
Work represented in anthologies, including Best Science Fiction of the Eighties, edited by Hayakawa; and What Might Have Been, Volume 2, edited by Gregory Benford. Contributor of stories and articles to magazines, including Amazing, Science Fiction Age, Pirate Writings, Interzone, Shock Waves, and Fantasy and Science Fiction. Contributor to Cities, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2004. Writes reviews for Asimov's, the Washington Post, and Science Fiction.
Paul Di Filippo is the author of hundreds of science-fiction and fantasy stories, many of which have been published in collections. Published in 2002, Little Doors is a collection of seventeen short fantasies, which a Publishers Weekly contributor considered "immaculately told." While the same contributor found the stories to be hilarious, the critic also commented that Di Filippo's writing in the book "verges on the self-consciously clever and is slightly condescending." A Kirkus Reviews contributor found Little Doors a "grotesquely funny collection." The same contributor noted: "None of the seventeen pieces really outstays its welcome, and a few could possibly have stuck around for a couple dozen more pages." The contributor went on to explain that some of Di Filippo's ideas warranted expansion, such as the title story, in which a professor writing a book about Victorian children's literature discovers a mysterious, unfamiliar volume and then notices little drawn doors appearing around campus. "Still, this is a collection worth reading, even if lacking profundity," wrote the Publishers Weekly contributor.
Di Filippo also pens novels, including A Mouthful on Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicanalia, which he modeled after Samuel Delany's Tides of Lust. A Mouthful on Tongues takes place in 2015 in the jungles of North America, which are dominated by a high-security governmental complex. Humble secretary Kerry Hacket stumbles upon a bioengineering project—a "She Beast" with incredible powers, including the ability to generate autonomous tongues and to change her own appearance and gender as well as that of others. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Di Filippo's "truly wondrous wordcraft—a lush and sometimes playful use of language—is reason enough to admire this short, possibly satiric novel."
In an interview with Claude Lalumière published on the Strange Horizons Web site, Di Filippo explained a concurrent theme in his work: a passionate desire to pervert consensus reality and imagine better worlds. He commented: "I 'fess up to such a starry-eyed nature and program. Perhaps because I had what I like to recall was an idyllic childhood, I continue to believe that life on Earth is infinitely improvable. The tragedy comes in how bad we mess up, and why we can't get out of our way to make the world a better place. (This is true on both the global and personal levels.) In my Buddhistic moments, I also recall the saying, ‘Samsara [this mortal life] is nirvana.’ If only we could see it. And what's so funny about peace, love, and understanding anyhow?"
The author has continued to write both short stories and novels. His next collection of short stories after Little Doors, titled Babylon Sisters and Other Posthumans, features fourteen fantastical tales. Jayme Lynn Blaschke, writing on the SF Site Web site, praised some of the stories, such as "The Reluctant Book," a story about a revolt by sentient books. "Witty and original, the imagination on display here is unsurpassed," wrote Blaschke. Neutrino Drag features twenty-one stories with protagonists such as Jayne Mansfield, Pythagoras, and the Virgin Mary. Lalumière noted on the Infinity Plus Web site that "there are several gems here."
Di Filippo's 2002 novel, A Year in the Linear City, tells the story of bustling city that stretches to infinity but is only as wide as a large city avenue and is flanked by Heaven on one side and Hell on the other. The story revolves around Diego Patchen and his fellow group of writers who ponder their existence between The Other Shore and The Wrong Side of the Tracks. "As always, this story is punctuated by the author's vivid and lush prose, as well as his inventive imagination and a singular … cast of characters," commented William Thompson on the SF Site Web site.
Fuzzy Dice, a novel published in 2004, features the unsuccessful and bitter Paul Girard, who hates almost everyone because almost everyone is more successful than he is. However, a mysterious being gives him a bicycle with a quantum yo-yo that allows Girard to make cross-universal jumps. He is also given a PEZ dispenser that looks like Richard M. Nixon and allows him to bring companions along. Each chapter focuses on another universe that the Girard jumps to in the quest for power and success. "Fuzzy Dice is frequently humorous and just as frequently philosophical, gilding the philosophic pill to make it more palatable and less obvious to those who are opening the book merely for entertainment," wrote Steven H. Silver on the SF Site Web site.
Harp, Pipe, and Symphony is actually the author's first fantasy novel, written when he was eighteen but not published until many years later. The story revolves around Thomas Rhymer as he travels down the Great Road and has numerous adventures involving humans, faeries, and monsters. A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to the novel as an "amiable apprentice work."
The Emperor of Gondwanaland, and Other Stories was published in 2005 and, according to Booklist contributor Carl Hays, "present[s] a smorgasbord of diverse ideas and styles." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the author "a polymath artist of the fantastic [who] throws out some whiz-bang ideas conjured with virtuosic skill."
In his 2006 collection of short stories, titled Shuteye for the Timebroker, the author presents fifteen tales, including two stories written by the author twenty years earlier but never before published. Among the stories in the collection is "The Farthest Schorr," which features thirty-two mini stories based on paintings by Todd Schorr, and "Slowhand and Little Sister," which tells of a fictional meeting between rock-guitar great Eric Clapton and legendary singer Janis Joplin. Noting that many "stories percolate with the author's trademark … wit and humor," a Publishers Weekly contributor went on to write that "several of the best are deadly earnest."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, June 1, 2005, Carl Hays, review of The Emperor of Gondwanaland, and Other Stories, p. 1768.
Bookwatch, January, 1999, review of Lost Pages, p. 8.
Book World, October 28, 2001, review of Strange Trades, p. 13; December 2, 2001, review of Strange Trades, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002, review of Little Doors, p. 1510; May 15, 2005, review of The Emperor of Gondwanaland, and Other Stories, p. 568.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April, 1999, review of Lost Pages, p. 41.
Publishers Weekly, August 20, 2001, review of Strange Trades, p. 62; September 30, 2002, review of A Mouthful on Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicanalia, p. 54; November 18, 2002, review of Little Doors, p. 46; January 10, 2005, review of Harp, Pipe, and Symphony, p. 44; May 30, 2005, review of The Emperor of Gondwanaland, and Other Stories, p. 44; March 27, 2006, review of Shuteye for the Timebroker, p. 63.
Science Fiction Chronicle, February, 1999, review of Lost Pages, p. 45.
Infinity Plus,http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (April 2, 2008), Claude Lalumière, review of Neutrino Drag; Keith Brooke, review of A Year in the Linear City; John Toon, review of Fuzzy Dice.
Locus Magazine,http://www.locusmag.com/ (November 18, 2002), Claude Lalumière, review of Babylon Sisters and Other Posthumans.
NZBC,http://www.nzbc.net.nz/ (November 12, 2006), Chris Bell, "Five minutes with Paul di Filippo."
OF Blog of the Fallen,http://ofblog.blogspot.com/ (February 25, 2007), "Interview with Paul Di Filippo."
Paul Di Filippo Home Page,http://pauldifilippo.com (April 2, 2008).
Scifi Dimensions,http://www.scifidimensions.com/ (April 2, 2008), Kevin Ahearn, "Interview: Paul Di Filippo."
SF Revu,http://www.sfrevu.com/ (April 2, 2008), John Berlyne, review of Fuzzy Dice.
SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (April 2, 2008), Paul Kincaid, review of Shuteye for the Timebroker; Jayme Lynn Blaschke, review of Babylon Sisters and Other Posthumans; William Thompson, review of A Year in the Linear City; Steven H. Silver, review of Fuzzy Dice.
Silver Bullet Comics Web site,http://www.silverbulletcomics.com/ (December 15, 2005), David Moran, "Talking with Paul Di Filippo."
Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (November 4, 2002), Claude Lalumière, "Interview: Paul Di Filippo."