signed, limited edition hardcover 1-90583-434-9
Harsh Oases is the author’s thirteenth collection of short fiction, but he chooses to regard that number as a lucky one, since this volume assembles some of his newest, most well-received personal favorites along with some of his older work either little reprinted or never before available.
In the first category is ‘Femaville 29,’ a much-lauded fantastical tale of love and salvation among the ruins of America’s Eastern Seaboard. ‘The Singularity Needs Women!’ pits human against posthuman over a woman’s love. In ‘Shipbreaker,’ a common laborer in an interstellar salvage yard finds his destiny altered forever by a strange pet. And in ‘Escape from New Austin,’ a young girl leaves her liberal home seeking the conservative dream.
Two stories appear here for the first time: ‘Aurorae’ and ‘A Game of Go.’ Both are set in the cyberpunk future of the author’s seminal ‘Kid Charlemagne.’ Two short, sharp satires, ‘Bad Beliefs’ and ‘Leakage,’ resurface from their initial publication in the alternative press.
The title story, ‘Harsh Oases,’ is the first addition to the Ribofunk canon since the publication of that pivotal collection in 1996. Nearly a compressed novel, it spans many strange milieus in the bio-engineered future of that series. On two radically different notes, ‘Pinocchia’ chronicles the erotic adventures of a sexy android, while ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Lignum Vitae’ address, with varying degrees of solemnity, the topic of religion. A collaboration with gonzo creator Rudy Rucker explores levels of quantum weirdness that underlie our familiar world. Finally, some flash fiction packs a few startling SF conceits into bite-sized stories. Running the wide gamut of DiFilippo’s myriad concerns and styles, this collection extends and solidifies his reputation as one of the finest short-story writers working today.