Book: Fractal Paisleys

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Fractal Paisleys

Author: Paul Di Filippo
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows

Ten funky science fiction stories by the widely acclaimed author of Steampunk and Ribofunk. Irreverent, funny and sexy—samples of what Di Filippo calls “trailer park science fiction”—Fractal Paisleys explains the real reason for the disappearance of the dinosaurs, how John Lennon found inspiration, how the L’il Bear Bar in Providence, R.I., ended up with a talking moose head on its wall, why Republicans ruled the U.S. for an unbroken twelve years and many more secrets of life. The stories are united by Di Filippo’s fascination with the infinite variety of alternate worlds: “what-if” scenarios that place an ordinary Joe or Jane in command of the forces that power the universe. Invariably, the results are…unexpected, to say the least.

Fractal Paisleys includes two never-before-published tales: the other stories were published in such science fiction standbys as Amazing Stories, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Interzone.


Paul Di Filippo is many things: author of The Steampunk Trilogy, Ribofunk, and Lost Pages; a two-time Nebula Award finalist; a leading practitioner of alternate history; one of the original steampunks; one of the original cyberpunks; and a modern master of satire. The 10 stories in Fractal Paisleys blend alternate history, hard SF, modern fantasy, noir-detective fiction, satire, and pop culture to varying degrees, creating what the author calls “trailer park science fiction,” in which regular folks (middle-, working-, and nonworking-class) encounter great and terrible powers and technologies of human, alien, futuristic, and fantastic origin.

In “Do You Believe in Magic?”, the ultimate self-absorbed, ‘60s-obsessed Baby Boomer emerges from his New York apartment for the first time in 20 years and finds himself an icon and a joke, and his city fire-bombed and theme-parked. In “Flying the Flannel,” one of the few Di Filippo stories to feature a female protagonist, an unknown garage-rock group is part of a cosmic battle of the bands, in which the fate of Earth itself is at stake. In the terrifying “Earth Shoes” (possibly the most unusual Philip K. Dick-inspired story ever written), a quantum-uncertainty-infected mood ring gives successive characters the power to remake reality according to their own often unacknowledged and dangerous desires. The remaining stories are as inventive, witty, entertaining, and well-written, making this another high-caliber collection from Paul Di Filippo. —Cynthia Ward

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