Reviews, interviews and articles by and with Paul

The Inferior 4+1 is a Livejournal community maintained by Paul, lizhand, Paul Witcover, lucius-t and ljgoldstein.

Recent posts:

  • Why I Dislike the Term "Social Justice Warrior" July 5, 2015
    Whenever the term Social Justice Warrior comes up someone always says, "Well, why shouldn't I call you an SJW?  You're for social justice, aren't you?"Well, for one thing I don't like being lumped in with a group, any group.  I prefer Groucho's take on it: "I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member."  (Cue the Puppies: "We knew it --  she's a Marxist!")  For another, the people who ask this question don't ever seem to notice that third word: "warrior."  Is this because they're so used to the language of war, of battles, that it doesn't even register?But that's really what I object to -- I don't think of myself as a warrior.  I'd like there to be more social justice in the world (really, what kind of person could object to that?), but I'd like us to get there by working things out together, discussing different viewpoints, reaching for consensus.Look at gay marriage, for example.  In San Francisco on Pride weekend I saw a family of four, mom, dad, toddler and kid in a stroller -- and the kid was waving a rainbow flag.  I could never have imagined this when I was growing up.  And we didn't get there by bludgeoning people over the head until everyone waved rainbow flags, or sending people off to re-education camps -- it happened organically, slowly over the years and then very quickly, until even (most of) the Supreme Court caught up with everyone else.That isn't to say I wouldn't fight for something I believed in.  If the views of some of the more noxious Puppies became the law of the land, for example, I'd be out on the barricades -- if any of the barricades could use a middle-aged woman, anyway.  But there are other ways to effect change, and war should be the last resort, not the first one.  One of my favorite ways is to laugh at blowhards.  That's what we Groucho-Marxists do, anyway.
  • Blatant Self-Promotion July 2, 2015
    The Red Magician is part of a Kindle Monthly Deal, which means the Kindle version is being sold for $1.99 in July (along with other deserving books).Also, publication of Weighing Shadows has been moved back from October to November.  I'm trying to think of this as "Weighing Shadows will become part of the holiday buying frenzy" instead of "Weighing Shadows will get lost in the holiday buying frenzy."
  • Three Things June 30, 2015
    1. The American Library Association convention offered free galleys of upcoming books, a wonderful experience that was sort of like free-range grazing for readers.  I snagged a copy of The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse, which turns out to be the true story of the fifth duke of Portland and a woman who was certain he had also been living a double life as her father-in-law, T.C. Druce.  I haven't finished it yet, but so far I'm liking it a lot.  I love stories about eccentrics, and this book is filled with them.  You have to admire a sentence like this, for example: "Mrs. Thwaytes -- who had been left the then immense sum of 500,000 pounds -- had been convinced that she was the third person of the Holy Trinity…"  The book's coming out in October.2. Here's an interesting list of "Old(er) Women in SF/F."  I'm delighted that they noticed Alice Wood in my novel Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon -- one of the things I wanted to do with that book was write from the point of view of someone who isn't shown much in fiction.3. I really liked this story in a recent New Yorker (something I don't say as often as I'd like to), "The Prospectors" by Karen Russell.  It reminded me a bit of Kelly Link, funny and shivery-spooky at the same time.
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE June 28, 2015
    I take a peek at a new postapocalypse novel:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2015/06/paul-di-filippo-reviews-nicole-kornher-stace/
  • At the American Library Association Conference June 28, 2015
    So I went to the American Library Association conference in San Francisco on the same weekend as the Gay Pride Parade, and just after the historic Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage.  What could possibly go wrong? [Deleted because a friend pointed out that this sounds as if I disliked the verdict, when in fact I thought it was fantastic and delightful and unexpected, and was just trying to say something about anticipating crowds and late trains.]  Luckily the BART ride over wasn't as crowded as I'd feared, and there was an upbeat, celebratory feeling even inside the conference center -- quieter than outside though, since these are, after all, librarians.I was supposed to be signing my book Weighing Shadows, but since it's coming out in October I was worried that the publisher wouldn't have any copies yet.  But when I got to the Skyhorse booth I saw an entire stack of galleys, so I was pretty damn impressed with how efficient they are.  They turned out to be skillful at other things as well, such as giving away copies of my book to librarians and coming up with promotional ideas.I guess I can admit now that I didn't like the cover at first.  It showed the main character arriving in another time period -- but her outfit was skin tight (I wanted to say, "They didn't have Spandex in the Middle Ages" but managed to restrain myself), and she had an odd, smirking expression.  It turned out I wasn't the only person who didn't like it, and I saw that the final cover had been retouched.  And people who stopped by for signed copies seemed intrigued by the description on the back, so that was great.This is the final cover.  I still don't love it, but it's better.I could have seen a panel with, among other people, John Scalzi and Larry Corriea, but I'm trying not to let this whole kerfuffle take up so much room inside my brain so I decided not to.  As Doug said, I should stop beating a dead Puppy.  (This is not in any way meant as a death threat!  It's an expression!  And it's ridiculous I even have to say this, but people have been known to misunderstand things on the Internet.)  I finally realized why I hate the expression "Social Justice Warrior," though, and I may write about that at some point.
  • New Review at the B&NR June 28, 2015
    I survey four new fantasy novels involving gods:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/dash-of-the-titans-classic-gods-in-4-new-fantasy-novels

The Weird Universe explores a human and natural cosmos that is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. The usual suspects are Paul Di Filippo; Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes; and Chuck Shepherd, purveyor of News of the Weird.

Recent posts:

  • Lipstick Art
    Famous landmarks carved out of lipstick. Created by artist Hedley Wiggan for an exhibit at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. The exhibit is called the International Lipstick Colours of the Year showcase. Lipstick isn't Wiggan's normal medium. He more often carves miniatures out of pencil leads.
  • Confusion Corner
    A traffic roundabout so jumbled, it earned fame and its own postcard. Concise explanation. Longer story.
  • News of the Weird (July 5, 2015)
    News of the Weird Weirdnuz.M430, July 5, 2015 Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved. Lead Story Update: California inventor Matt McMullen, who makes the world’s most realistic life-sized female, the RealDoll (with exquisite skin texture and facial and body architecture and which sells for $5,000-$10,000 depending on customization), is working with engineers experienced in robotics to add animation--but according to a June New York Times report, faces a built-in problem. As a pioneer Japanese robotics developer observed, robots that become too human-like tend to disgust rather than satisfy. Hence, the more life-like McMullen makes his RealDolls, the more likely the customer will be creeped out rather than turned on--perhaps forcing the virtuoso McMullen to leave enough imperfection to reassure the customer that it’s just a doll. [New York Times, 6-11-2015] Cultural Diversity A low-caste minor girl was beaten up by several higher-caste women in the village of Ganeshpura, India, in June (in retaliation for the girl’s having disrespected a male relative of the women--by allowing by allowing her shadow to partially cover the man). The girl’s family managed to get to a police station to file charges, but in some remote villages like Ganeshpura, higher-caste aggressors can intimidate the victims into silence (and in this case, allegedly threatened to kill the girl and members of her family for the shadow-casting). [Press Trust of India via Times of India, 6-16-2015] Yunessan Spa House in Hakone, Japan, recently began offering guests supposedly soothing, skin-conditioning baths--of ramen noodles (elevating to health status what might be Japan’s real national dish). The pork broth that fills the tub is genuine, but because of health department regulations, only synthetic noodles can be used, and it is not clear that the artificial ramen achieves the same (allegedly) beautifying collagen levels as actual noodles. [Metro News (London), 5-12-2015] Government in Action The federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force obtained indictments of 243 people in June in a variety of alleged scams and swindles, and among those arrested was Dr. Noble U. Ezukanma, 56, of Fort Worth, Tex., who once billed the government for working 205 hours in a single day (October 16, 2012). (Other indictees were similarly accused of inflating the work they supposedly did for Medicare patients, but Dr. Ezukanma clearly had the most productive day of the bunch.) [Dallas Morning News, 6-18-2015] Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina, who with her husband earned $2.5 million last year, disclosed that the U.S. tax system required her to file not just a federal return but returns in 17 states, as well, and a June New York Times report chose one state (Michigan) to highlight the Fiorinas’ plight. Ultimately, the Fiorinas determined that they owed Michigan income tax of $40, but they had no way of knowing the exact amount until they had completed 58 pages of documents (to rule out various Michigan attempts to collect more because the tax they owed was more justly payable to other states and could thus be excluded). [New York Times, 6-12-2015] Canada’s naval vessels stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, currently lack supply-ship capability, according to a May Canadian Press report. One of the only two vessels has been decommissioned, and the other, 45 years old, is floating limply because of corrosion, and work on a replacement will not begin until 2017. Consequently, according to the report, the navy has been forced to order repair parts for the ship by advertising for them on eBay. [Canadian Press via CTV News, 5-18-2015] News You Can Use A brief Washington Post review in June heralded the new edition of the Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, covering “different types of ignorance” in a range of subjects by authors from various countries. Among the valuable conclusions in the book is that while “individual ignorance” may be rational in some cases, it is unlikely that “collective ignorance” advances the society. In any event, the author concluded, “The realm of ignorance is so vast that no one volume can fully cover it all.” [Washington Post, 6-16-2015] Florida! Because the walkway in front of the Publix supermarket in Fort Lauderdale had seen its share of Girl Scout cookie sellers, Patrick Lanier apparently thought the venue a natural for his product. On June 4th, he plopped down a live, five-foot-long shark he had just captured, and which he hectored shoppers to buy, asking $100 (and occasionally tossing buckets of water on it to keep it shimmering). He had less success than the cookie-peddlers, and in short order loaded it back into his truck, took it to an inlet, and released it. However, he did avoid the police; it is illegal to sell fish without a commercial license.) [WSVN-TV (Miami), 6-5-2015] Oh, Dear! The New York Court of Appeals ruled in June that, when a body is taken for official autopsy and organs are removed (including the brain), the deceased’s family does not necessarily have a right to receive the body with organs re-inserted. “[N]othing in our common law jurisprudence,” the judges wrote, mandates “that the medical examiner do anything more than produce the . . . body.” The family had demanded the entire body back for a “proper” Catholic burial. [New York Daily News, 6-11-2015] Sounds Like a Joke In May, police in Anglesey, North Wales, called for a hostage negotiator to help with two suspects (aged 21 and 27) wanted for a series of relatively minor crimes and who were holed up on the roof of a building. However, the building was a one-story community center, and the men (whose feet were dangling over a gutter about eight feet off the ground) had refused to come down. Even as a crowd gathered to watch, the men managed to hold out for 90 minutes before being talked down. [South Wales Evening Post, 5-15-2015] Least Competent Criminals Marijuana is purported to make some heavy users paranoid, and the January arrest of alleged Bozeman, Mont., dealers Leland Ayala-Doliente, 21, and Craig Holland, 22, may have been cases in point. Passersby had reported the two men pacing along the side of Golden Beauty Drive in Rexburg, Idaho, and, when approached by a car, would throw their hands up until the vehicle passed. When police finally arrived, one suspect shouted, “We give up. We know we’re surrounded. The drugs [20 pounds of marijuana] are [over there].” According to the Idaho Falls Post Register, they were not surrounded (nor had they been followed by undercover officers--as the men claimed). [Post Register, 1-29-2015] Update The South Pacific island of Pitcairn (pop. 48, all descendants of the crew of the legendary “Mutiny on the Bounty” ship and their Tahitian companions) made News of the Weird in 2002 when British judges were brought in (and jails built) to conduct trials on the island’s rampant sex abuse of children--said to involve most men and children on the island. (Nine men were convicted, but none served a lengthy sentence.) Pitcairn has resumed being an island paradise, and in May its laconic governing council voted on a sex issue: It legalized gay marriage (even though, according to a June Associated Press report, no one had asked, and only one person had ever identified as gay). One resident told the AP that, well, gay marriage “is happening everywhere else, so why not?” [Associated Press via Daily Telegraph (London), 6-22-2015] A News of the Weird Classic (October 2010) Ingrid Paulicivic filed a lawsuit in September [2010] against Laguna Beach, Calif., gynecologist Red Alinsod over leg burns she bafflingly acquired during her 2009 hysterectomy--a procedure that was topped off by the doctor's nearly gratuitous name-"branding" of her uterus with his electrocautery tool. Dr. Alinsod explained that he carved "Ingrid" in inch-high letters on the organ only after he had removed it and that such labeling helps in the event a woman requests the return of the uterus as a souvenir. He called the branding just a "friendly gesture" and said he did not know how the burns on Paulicivic's leg occurred. (Update: In 2012, a court in Orange County, Calif., ruled that Alinsod’s regimen did not constitute malpractice.) [The Smoking Gun, 9-13-2010] [PRLOG.org, 3-18-2014] Thanks This Week to Hap McUne and Paul Flagler, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Bob McCabe, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Sandy Pearlman, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Peter Smagorinsky, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).
  • News of the Weird Live
    I just found out (by accidentally stumbling upon it) that at one time you could have gone to see Chuck's column performed in a theater. The improv comedians Gavin Hawk and Ricky Wayne had a weekly show in which they acted out stories from News of the Weird. Their show had its last performance in 2013, but below you can see what it was like. A related example of the cultural influence of NOTW, posted by Paul a few years ago, is that Batman read Chuck's column.
  • Follies of the Madmen #253
    If only Hollywood had made John Carter of Mars in 1979, with Cher as Dejah Thoris, they would have had a surefire hit!
  • Satanic cloud above Statue of Liberty
    Over at about.com, in honor of the Fourth of July, I just posted The 10 Weirdest Moments in the History of the Statue of Liberty, one of those moments being the time in 1989 (or maybe it was 1990 - sources differ), when two Irish tourists on vacation in NYC took a photo of Lady Liberty. It was only when they got back home and developed the photo that they noticed a "Satanic face" in the clouds leering down at her. I'll let you decide for yourself what meaning, if any, this might have. But as far as cloud photos go, it's a pretty famous one. Also, Happy Fourth of July!

by Charlie Dickinson

(Originally published online on Dec 8, 1998)

Irrepressible humor, a stand-back imagination, a wondrous facility and control of the English language are qualities often assigned to science fiction writer Paul Di Filippo. Native to Providence, Rhode Island, Di Filippo, along with others of his generation, reinvigorated SF storytelling with a cyberpunk ethos during the 1980s (an early Di Filippo story, “Stone Lives,” appears in the definitive cyberpunk anthology, Mirrorshades).

By 1995, Di Filippo had published nearly 100 short stories when a three-novella volume, The Steampunk Trilogy, came out. Never one to give his imagination a rest, Di Filippo took the cyberpunk attitude back to Victorian times.

Subsequent books were two story collections: biotech-themed Ribofunk (1996), and Fractal Paisleys (1997) with the SFWA Nebula award-winner, “Lennon Spex,” and a novel: Ciphers: A Post-Shannon Rock-n-Roll Mystery (1997).

Di Filippo’s most recent release is Lost Pages (1998). Although paying homage to a number of modern writers, Lost Pages lets the reader consider some very alternate realities: What if novelist Franz Kafka worked a day job as a columnist for health-faddist and publishing magnate Bernarr Macfadden and moonlighted as a superhero? And that’s only the first of nine stories.

Savoy’s Charlie Dickinson caught up with Paul in cyberspace to pose the 20 Questions.

1

Your short story “Anne,” included in Lost Pages, is a great, imaginative read. You take the Holocaust icon and let her escape from Holland to Hollywood. Any trouble publishing this story?

My record-keeping for the submission of “Anne” indicates that it journeyed to a mere four recalcitrant editors before finding a home with the munificent and perspicacious Scott Edelman in the first issue of Science Fiction Age. I must have had high hopes for mainstream acceptance, since the first two zines I tried were Playboy and Esquire. Only the response of Alice Turner at Playboy sticks in my memory. She accused me of dishonoring the memory of Anne Frank in a particularly scandalous and trivial way. My written response to her: “When I play God, Anne Frank gets another fifty years of life.”

2

“Anne” seems a pretty obvious collision between Jewish moral earnestness and your quite valid postmodern esthetics. Can we have both, ethics and esthetics, and not have one trump the other?

I always like to keep in mind a quote from the work of Thomas Pynchon that one member of the online Pynchon list uses as his signature sign-off: “Keep cool, but care.” I think that one line puts the whole esthetics/ethics rivalry in perspective. The Buddhist goal of wise compassion does the same: wisdom, the intellect, balanced with heart. If it’s possible to be some weird mix of Flaubert and Gandhi, that’s my goal.

3

Without doubt, Lost Pages pays homage to some twentieth-century writers that matter to you. They’re the protagonists in your stories. We’re seeing more historical figures in contemporary fiction. I’ve read T. Coraghessan Boyle sits down with original source materials to compost his fictive imagination. What was your approach with Lost Pages?

The stories in Lost Pages quickly proved to me what SF writer Howard Waldrop had already ruefully discovered: it’s possible to devote an elephant’s worth of research time to produce a mouse of a story. (A very witty and charming mouse, to be sure.) To me, employing a writer as a protagonist involves becoming intimately familiar with his work and his life, as well as the era in which he or she flourished. Obviously, this is a potentially infinite amount of research. In many cases I fudged, garnering just enough details to convey a larger authoritativeness. I had wanted to do an original story for the volume, one in which D. H. Lawrence lived to randy old age and became the dictator of a sex-based, Dionysian U.S. government, but felt daunted by the amount of reading that would have demanded. Maybe when I reach my own hypothetical old age, I’ll buckle down and write that one!

4

One story I especially loved in Lost Pages was “The Happy Valley at the End of the World,” where Antonie de Saint-Exupery meets Beryl Markham. How did that story take off?

The kernel for my Saint-Exupery story was actually reading the script of Wells’ Things to Come. I began conjecturing how in reality the airmen Wells was relying on as saviors of humanity were really a raffish, selfish lot, and probably wouldn’t have gone along with his plans at all. From there, it was a simple matter of choosing the two standout aviators of their time as protagonists. I avoided Lindbergh, since one of my rules of writing is to focus on the secondary or lesser-known personages of history. They offer so much more in the way of fresh tales!

5

You’re having a My Dinner with Andre evening with one famous, or infamous, living person. Whom and why?

I think I’d like to sit down with Neil Young and find out his secret of not growing old.

6

Reading about your formative years in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, I was struck by one defining moment for you at age eighteen. You’d graduated from high school in Providence and you’d spent the summer working at a tough physical job in a spinning mill. While your former classmates were off to college, you took your savings, packed typewriter and a small book collection, and were off for Hawaii. You were a writer. Okay, once there, you didn’t write your first publishable story. Nonetheless, how did this experience change you?

Striking out on my own at age 17 proved to me one indelible truth: I wasn’t a prodigy. The science fiction field is famous for its brilliant youngsters. Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Samuel Delany, Michael Moorcock. I think I had some notion back then that I was one of them, and that stint proved that I surely lacked the chops at such an early age to follow in the footsteps of these teen geniuses. My path would not be identical to theirs.

7

Now, flash forward a few years. You’re almost twenty-two and boom! you’ve set up housekeeping with your life’s companion, Deborah, and you’ve sold your first story. Two decision biggies — whom to live with, what to do for a living — that plague many people through their twenties, and beyond. Do you feel your early focus and decisiveness gave you more time to produce what many consider a respectable body of work by someone who’s not that far into his forties?

As mildly disillusioning as my first foray into the dedicated creative lifestyle was, it had a paradoxical confirming effect. This was what I wanted to do, but I just wasn’t ready yet. So a few years later, making certain major decisions once and for all did indeed free my energies to flow into a channel that had been at least shallowly scraped in the sands of Hawaii five years in the past. Richard Feynman’s famous anecdote about deciding to eat only chocolate pudding for dessert for the rest of his life in order to free up a few decision-making neurons for more important matters has always resonated with me.

8

Your writing has loads of humor and none of the neurotic drearies. So if you don’t write as therapy, why do you write?

Writing humor has always come naturally to me, although in times of personal crisis the stories do emerge somewhat grimmer. Consider “Mama Told Me Not to Come” in Fractal Paisleys, which begins with the narrator’s attempted suicide. In any case, I think I write for the same reason many writers do: to replicate through my own prose some golden hour of reading of my youth. Haven’t quite done it yet, though!

9

Public imagination thrives on the idea of SF visionaries like Verne whose boldly speculative worlds come true decades later. Power of the imagination aside, I suspect you read loads of articles about biotech, cybernetics, nanotechnology, and such. Care to comment on how you go mining for SF ideas?

I keep abreast of science mainly through journals for the self-educated lay person such as Scientific American, and through pop-sci books. Although some writers such as Fred Pohl and Bruce Sterling delve into esoteric professional journals and visit actual labs, I find that most of the time I can get enough insight into up-and-coming trends and gadgets and waves of paradigm-shifting through standard sources. What counts in making a fun story is the twist. Given transgenic animals, for instance, will you find them waiting on you at your local McDonald’s, or being illegally served on a bun at some black-market dive? Or both?

10

Here’s a question we ask everyone: What are you reading now? Why did you pick it?

As a full-time reviewer, I read so much that this question would have a different answer almost every hour! [Could Savoy agree to refresh these lines accordingly? (Grin.)] This morning, however, I picked up something very different: a work in manuscript, sent to me by Jonathan Lethem. Titled Doofus Voodoo, it’s written by a friend of Lethem’s named Tom Clark, and so far has managed to intrigue me. Clark is a poet, and his weird tale seems on a par with something like Steve Aylett’s Slaughtermatic, another fine book I commend to one and all.

11

You still write on a Commodore 128?

My Commodore, alas, has been put out to pasture. In line with Bruce Sterling’s Dead Media Project, an ongoing chronicle of obsolescence, I now maintain the faithful C128 as a shrine, and keep electric incense perpetually aglow before this fine old piece of hardware on which I wrote five novels and scores of stories.

12

So I take it you don’t do Windows?

[Editor’s note: Paul opted for a Mac.]

Five hundred years from now, Bill Gates will have entered the ranks of the minor deities. Whether as Zeus or Lucifer remains to be seen!

13

Your favorite pizza and where?

This important question deserves a three-part answer: a) any pizza purchased in Italy, because I’d have to be in Italy to eat it; b) Deborah’s caramelized onion-and-garlic white pizza on homemade wheat dough; c) Caserta’s on Federal Hill in Providence.

14

Anyone who has read your novel Ciphers: A Post-Shannon Rock-n-Roll Mystery realizes that your R & R knowledge is both encyclopedic and reverent. You’re on a desert island and have an entertainment choice. Either the CDs or the videos go. Which will it be and why?

I doubt I’ve watched more than two hours’ worth of videos since the birth of MTV, and that amount’s been in ten-second snatches. Videos are to music as film adaptations are to novels. No contest here on which to dump!

15

Tell us about “pronoia.”

Pronoia is the irrational belief that someone somewhere is trying to do you good. Whether this belief is as harmful to one’s mental well-being as paranoia, and whether the notion of someone trying to do you “good” is a scarier prospect than that of someone trying to harm you, both remain unanswered questions.

16

What bumper sticker(s) is on your car, or what would you compose to tell other motorists what’s on your mind?

Our 1981 Cressida sports a colorful “Free Tibet” injunction and also one of those black-rimmed, white oval place-abbreviation stickers, in this case “BI”. The latter stands for Block Island, a beautiful resort we love to visit, although its shady alternate meanings tend to raise motorist eyebrows.

17

One of the things you’ve done to survive as a fiction writer was a stint at the refreshment counter in a stag movie house. You gain any special understanding of human nature from this work? Any of it of value in writing stories?

I learned that it’s possible for the average person (not the actors and actresses on-screen, but the owners of the theater) to utterly divorce their feelings about the product they peddle from the paycheck it delivers. A useful marketplace reminder of how anyone can slide into becoming a merchant of the dubiously valuable, and a lesson every writer should keep uppermost in mind.

18

You’ve also had a gig writing computer code and with your SF eye on the future, what’s your best guess on how the Y2K Millennial Bug is going to play out? You stocking up the wine cellar, you ready to plant potatoes in the backyard?

I wrote in COBOL plenty of Y2K code, and am indelibly grateful I am not now in charge of cleaning the mess up. But I will take the absurdist stance that dealing with the Y2K glitch will boost the global economy into new stratospheric levels, as businesses are forced to invest in up-to-date hardware and software and modernize their procedures. Already, Y2K has earned millions of dollars for consultants and old hackers.

19

About a year ago, in doing its annual roundup of hot books for ‘98, Publisher’s Weekly discussed at length Fractal Paisleys, your previous short story collection. The reviewer said you deserved to be better known, but your primary work in the short story form kept you from reaching a wider audience. What’s on tap in the way of novels?

My first novel, Ciphers, has received some encouraging reviews that allow me to believe readers might be ready for more. In Spring 1999, Cambrian Publications will release a picaresque comedy — no fantasy or speculative elements! — titled Joe’s Liver. And a manuscript titled Fuzzy Dice is currently seeking a home. That one’s a Ruckeresque romp across dimensions. But I’ve yet to choose what longer project surfaces next from a pool of several new ideas.

20

You ever entertain the notion that it’s time to move on to a bigger state than Rhode Island?

Wasn’t it William Blake who urged us “to see Texas entire in ev’ry minuscule Rhode Island”? Something like that keeps me here in the land of my birth, happy and productive, and like all good Yankees I say, “Don’t fix what ain’t broke!”