by Paul DiFilippo
Four Walls Eight Windows
I read Di Filippo’s Ribofunk about a year ago, so I was looking forward to reading Fractal Paisleys, another collection of short fiction. It was somewhat of a pleasing shock to read another side of Di Filippo. While Ribofunk could be thought of as falling squarely in “cyberpunk” (I shudder — it’s the literary equivalent of “grunge”), Fractal Paisleys is a combination of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and white trash. And aliens, robots, illicit gene therapy, the last of the old-school critics…
Di Filippo is no idle borrower, either. He knows his stuff, and peppers his stories with plenty of legit musical references. The opening tale, “Master Blaster and the Whammer Jammer meet the Groove Thang” features Stevie Wonder and Peter Wolf (ex of J. Geils Band) as freelance trash men who stumble upon… well, the Groove Thang. The magical powers of John Lennon’s glasses is interesting, as is the theory that Kurt Cobain’s cardigan was actually a sort of fuzzy off-green Terminator, on a mission from the future. “Flying the Flannel” manages to reference just about every early-’90s band I listened to.
This is not to imply that Fractal Paisleys is a collection of alt.rock name-dropping. Di Filippo has some ideas that are… odd, to say the least. Still, he manages to present them as clearly as the most likely explanation, and even weaves a dark sense of throughout, as in “Do You Believe in Magic?” the story of Beaner Wilinks, music critic and hermit, who ends a self-imposed 10-year incarceration with a mission to find a replacement copy of a Lovin’ Spoonful record. Di Filippo’s description of next-century NYC is as hilarious as it is plausible. Four Walls Eight Windows, 39 West 14th Street, Room 503, New York, NY 10011