The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories

Overview

Paul Di Filippo's fiction spans genres—from cyberpunk to alternative history to extravagantly funny tales involving talking beavers. As whimsical as they are intelligent, the eighteen stories gathered here, each introduced by the author, find strange characters in even stranger circumstances. An all-access pass to Di Filippo's whirlwind imagination, The Emperor of Gondwanaland makes clear why its author is one of the most respected science fiction writers around. The man who coined the word ribofunk (to describe ...

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Overview

Paul Di Filippo's fiction spans genres—from cyberpunk to alternative history to extravagantly funny tales involving talking beavers. As whimsical as they are intelligent, the eighteen stories gathered here, each introduced by the author, find strange characters in even stranger circumstances. An all-access pass to Di Filippo's whirlwind imagination, The Emperor of Gondwanaland makes clear why its author is one of the most respected science fiction writers around. The man who coined the word ribofunk (to describe science fiction with a biogenetic twist), Di Filippo sees into the heart of our times with a vision and creativity that simply won't quit. The Emperor of Gondwanaland is more like a fluid Dalí dreamscape, painted with the deft brushstrokes; a wildly fantastic escape to alternate universes from one of the most imaginative writers around.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories, Paul Di Filippo's first-ever "non-themed" volume of short stories, is a wide-ranging collection that includes 18 brilliantly bizarre works of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction.

"And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon" is set in a near future where spontaneous assemblages of intelligent appliances, called blebs, are becoming an increasing danger -- and carnal temptation -- to humanity. "Time Travel Blasphemies I and II" features two unforgettable characters: Joe Carpenter, a perverted genius who is so sexually fixated on the Virgin Mary that he builds a time-travel device to meet her, and Sandra Birkenstock, a man-hating woman who creates a virus to kill off all human males -- only to create a completely unanticipated future. Also included are stories about fun-loving anarchists, cybernations, human-animal hybrids, Tao mysticism on Mars, and even the O. J. Simpson trial!

In the collection's introduction, Di Filippo likens his past-themed short story collections (The Steampunk Trilogy, Fractal Paisleys, Little Doors, et al.) to eating a quart of vanilla ice cream in one sitting. This collection he describes as a "foot-long banana-split, with three kinds of sauce, nuts, cherries, whipped cream, and at least one flavor of ice cream" that readers are "guaranteed to love." He couldn't be more correct. The diverse and memorable stories included in his newest collection are pure literary genius. Science fiction and fantasy fans who have yet to experience Di Filippo's creative brilliance need only read The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories to see why this author is being tagged the next coming of Ray Bradbury. Paul Goat Allen

Lucius Shepard
Di Filippo's work harks back to the Golden Age fantasists, yet also recapitulates the cyberpunks and seems to anticipate, with its brimming energy and eagerness to experiment, a livelier brand of fantasy writing than what prevails today. If he did not exist, we would have to invent him using, say, a spontaneous assemblage of information, an ionic fountain and a rhyming dictionary with a vocal attachment that allows it to speak in various meters and, on occasion, if it feels so inclined, to sing.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The best of the 18 stories in Di Filippo's first nonthemed collection are both fun and unpredictable. Typically they pay homage to other authors, as in "Anselmo Merino," which puts a science-fictional spin on Herman Melville's Benito Cereno. In the idiosyncratic "Beyond Mao," co-written with Barry Malzberg, Chinese "taikonauts" venture into space. It would be pure Malzberg if it weren't half Di Filippo. In "Observable Things," Cotton Mather teams up with Robert E. Howard's fictional Puritan, Solomon Kane. "A Monument to After-Thought Unveiled" features an even more outlandish pairing-poet Robert Frost starts his career by writing horror fiction for Weird Tales magazine, edited by H.P. Lovecraft. The poignant title tale underlines the emotional importance of computers to lonely but imaginative individuals, while the amusing alternate world satire, "Shake It to the West," updates J.A. Mitchell's 1889 novel of America in decline, The Last American. Not every selection is a winner, but the versatile Di Filippo (The Steampunk Trilogy) remains consistently inventive. (July 5) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A polymath artist of the fantastic throws out some whiz-bang ideas conjured with virtuosic skill. Di Filippo (Ribofunk, 1996, etc.) might have achieved more of the recognition he deserves had he stayed in one field and plowed it often. Instead, the only thread connecting the 18 stories that make up this witches' brew-horror, fantasy, variations on SF subgenres-seems to be the author's bright imagination and a spark of dark humor. Still, most of the tales are in the SF vein, which is a good thing, given the much less satisfying fantasy/horror tropes of his previous collection, Little Doors (2002). The title story is a funny gripe about an office drone, quietly miserable with the corporate routine, who loses himself in a virtual online universe called Gondwanaland. It's more elaborate and addictive than anything Tolkien dreamed up, and anyone needing to ask whether the virtual world turns out to be real doesn't read enough in this particular genre. Di Filippo's tendency toward the baroque and referential is best exemplified by "Ailoura," a complex melange of fairy tale and Frank Herbert homage, and by "Anselmo Merino," an excellent futuristic riff on Melville's "Benito Cereno." There are some misfires, like the trying-too-hard "Science Fiction," which starts off as a dark, Harlan Ellison-style industry spoof but soon falls apart under the weight of its self-referencing. Other pieces range all over the map, from the grotesquely funny "Time Travel Blasphemies I and II" (Christians and feminists beware) to "Beyond Mao," a classic space-exploration saga. Satisfying though it is, the collection makes one wish Di Filippo would go full out and give us a novel every now and again. Film rightsoptioned by producer Tom Engelman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560256656
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/15/2005
  • Series: Di Filippo, Paul
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Anselmo Merino 3
My adventures with the SPCA 34
The emperor of Gondwanaland 50
Observable things 69
Clouds and cold fires 95
Ailoura 118
Your gold teeth, pt. 2 150
Beyond Mao 167
Time travel blasphemies I and II 186
Pulp alibis 192
Science fiction 206
The curious inventions of Mr. H 227
Shake it to the west 240
Sisyphus and the stranger 267
A monument to after-thought unveiled 280
Bare market 312
And the dish ran way with the spoon 329
Up! 348
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