Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ribofunk - Paul Di Filippo

I have had this sitting on my shelf for years. You see what treasure I have just lying around in my room, and I don't even know it? Who's the ijit? ME.

I chose it as I'm still on this run of "small and easy to carry", which isn't the greatest reason to pick up a book, but didn't fail me this time.

Ribofunk is awesome. AWE-SOME. It isn't cyberpunk, not in the traditional sense. There's a lot more funk, for starters. Oodles more funk. So much funk it's off the funkitude scale.

While there is a sort-of over-arching story to the book, it presents as a collection of short stories, sometimes related, sometimes not. I suppose you could read them at random, but the information presented in one lays the groundwork for the next, so perhaps it would be better to treat them as chapters that aren't closely related. Sort of second-cousins meeting at the family christmas dinner.

Di Filippo has created a world which...

...kinda defies summary.

It's a future in which the focus is less on computers, and more on body manipulation. Tropes and splices, anything can be injected now, from moods to knowledge to horns. I didn't pick up much body horror, but some of the modifications were confronting, to say the least. People chosing to augment their bodies to become more like cockroaches, or cliched chain-mail bikini-clad barbarian women, and splices themselves, part human, part anything else you want DNA. What does it mean to be human? Does it matter?

But Di Filippo doesn't just create a funkified future, or rewrite the syntax of science-fiction (I can't say that without cackling), he makes his own genre and language, and leaves the rest of us staring in puzzlement at his frollicks. I admit, I read the first page about five times before giving up trying to decipher the lingo and just running with it. It's a great, great language. Read it, and learn.

My favourite chapter/story has to be Big Eater, a story told entirely from the point of view of a man who had a broadcasting accident, and when stressed, sick, or having just woken up, can only express himself in rhymes.

The wordbird woke me at seven out of my heaven. Not at all synthetic, just the old deltawave-syncretic. Rem-memories hazed my gaze. Just like a screamcurse, I seemed stuck in my dreamverse. Though it wasn't so bad, maybe even triple-gonad. Something about drifting forever down a river of feathers. On my back, I was catching up on my slack. Coasting along just humming a song. Mighty nice change from my strife-life brain-drain. Which the nerdbird was still harp-harp-hopping on.

You know. The sort of thing that makes me grin because it's silly and awesome.

Verdict: If you're serious about writing, and the techniques of writing, you don't have an excuse not to read this. If you like reading good books, you have even less excuse not to read this. Does not make a good hat. Wrong shape. Great cover though.

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