Quotes by: Paul Di Filippo
Roald Dahl pioneered a new kind of literature for youngsters, one that dispensed with cant and solemnity, favoring anarchy and joy over duty and humbuggery while acknowledging that oftentimes no good deed goes unpunished. But ultimately, it was his sheer joie de vivre that carried the day.
Writers begin changing the instant they append 'The End' to a novel. Readers begin changing the moment they encounter that same phrase. And even the novels themselves, through the strange transmutations of time and shifting tastes and mores, exhibit changes as we look backward upon them, acquiring retroactive meanings and tonalities.
Jeff VanderMeer's fiction has always been entrancingly, engagingly, enthusiastically weird, a winning combination of mimesis and the fantastical that privileges neither component: perhaps the very definition of that mode categorized as the 'New Weird' and exemplified most famously by the groundbreaking work of China Mieville.
It is truly bracing and instructive to contemplate the End Times - at least at safe remove, in the pages of fiction - especially as the world beyond our hearths churns and convulses unknowably, yet perhaps just short of ultimate disaster.
Thomas Pynchon surely inaugurated or crystallized a new genre in 1963 when he published 'V.' The seriocomic mystery or thriller with one foot set in the present and one in various historical eras received its postmodern baptism from Pynchon.
Just as our solar system has a certain idiosyncratic assortment of planets and moons, different from any neighboring system yet categorically equivalent, so each distinct period of human history might have special qualities and individuals, characteristics and events, yet still be essentially akin beneath the surface to all the others.
Quite often, intent on conveying how things can go wrong for a culture (science fiction) or an individual (horror) or all of magical creation (fantasy), works of fantastika often preclude comedy, because humor gets in the way of messages of doom or struggle.
Science offers no brief for the telekinetic powers of Darth Vader and hardly any greater justification for the faster-than-light travel that makes his empire possible. And yet what is 'Star Wars' if not pure quill SF?
Ribofunk indicates a focus on biology as the upcoming big science in the way that physics was for the last 50 or 100 years. If you look for a biological thread throughout science fiction, you can find it, but it's a very small percentage of the total. That's been changing in the last few years.
Blending consensus historical events and personages with imaginary occult forces is a strong recipe for counterfactual storytelling goodness that combines the best of two worlds: resonant history with wild-eyed fantasy.
Everyone can guess what 'Corn Flakes' tastes like, even if you've never had them. But what, pray tell, does 'High School Musical' or 'Spider-Man' cereal possibly taste like? In this late era, we have reached the ultimate deracination between product image and what actually sits on our spoon.
Steampunk, the repurposing of Victorian culture and technology for contemporary fun and profit, is so ubiquitous - in media, books, fashion, music, cosplay, and maker culture - that we tend to imagine its superficial aspects are all that define it.
Generational change within a genre is hard to parse while it's happening. Only in retrospect can the passing of the baton from ancestors to progeny be clearly discerned.
Certainly the highest posthumous praise that can be conferred upon any writer is the assertion that his or her writing permanently altered the literary landscape for the better, opening new textual doors and engaging new readers. That the author's oeuvre was essential and irreplaceable and transformative.
The entire Internet, as well as the types of devices represented by the desktop computer, the laptop computer, the iPhone, the iPod, and the iPad, are a continuing inescapable embarrassment to science fiction, and an object lesson in the fallibility of genre writers and their vaunted predictive abilities.
The sentient beast has long been a staple of fantasy fiction and its antecedents in myth and folktale.
Stephen King consummately honors several traditions with his rare paperback original, 'Joyland.' He addresses the novel of carny life and sideshows, where the midway serves as microcosm, such as in those famous books by Ray Bradbury, Charles Finney and William Lindsay Gresham.
It's certainly a cliche to remark that a nonfiction book 'reads just like a novel,' but in the case of Jonathan Eig's 'The Birth of the Pill,' I have no other recourse, since his narrative is full of larger-than-life characters sharply limned and embarked on fascinating doings, their story told in sprightly visual fashion.
The term 'steampunk' itself, now a badge of honor, began as a putdown, a joke. But like 'Big Bang' in cosmology, the diss became the standard.
The lives of most authors - even, or perhaps especially, the great ones - are necessarily a catalogue of tedious inwardness and cloistered composition. Globe-trotting Hemingways and brawling Christopher Marlowes are the exception, not the rule.
The science-fictional motif of lethal, infectious information - bad memes - is a fascinating one, with an extended history. One of the earliest instances is Robert W. Chambers's 'The King in Yellow' from 1895. Chambers's conceit is a malevolent play: read beyond Act II, and you go mad.
The juggernaut that is steampunk, like Dr. Loveless's giant mechanical spider in the 1999 film version of 'The Wild, Wild West,' seems capable of crushing all naysayers.
Once anthropology and geology had opened up the pre-recordkeeping darkness of humanity's long, slow, sustained infancy as suitable grounds for speculation, writers began trying to imagine human existence as it must have been with only stone-age technology.
You could engineer a human to survive the greenhouse effect because you think that's what's going to happen, and then all of a sudden the glaciers are creeping down on you.