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Cosmocopia
Paul Di Filippo
Necon E-Books, 115 pages

Cosmocopia
Paul Di Filippo
Paul Di Filippo lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He is the author of several story collections including Destroy All Brains, The Steampunk Trilogy, Ribofunk, Fractal Paisleys, and Lost Pages. Paul Di Filippo's first novel, Ciphers, was published by Cambrian Publications and Permeable Press.

Paul Di Filippo Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: After the Collapse
SF Site Interview: Paul Di Filippo
SF Site Review: Four Stories
SF Site Review: A Princess of the Linear Jungle
SF Site Review: Cosmocopia
SF Site Review: Shuteye for the Timebroker
SF Site Review: Babylon Sisters and Other Posthumans
SF Site Review: Little Doors
SF Site Review: A Mouthful of Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicanalia
SF Site Review: A Year in the Linear City
SF Site Review: Strange Trades
SF Site Review: Strange Trades
SF Site Review: Lost Pages
SF Site Review: Ribofunk
SF Site Review: Fractal Paisleys
SF Site Review: The Steampunk Trilogy

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

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While Paul Di Filippo isn't a household name, if you've read deeply in the field, you've heard of him. He zigs and zags his way across the genre. For a genre known for its weird, Cosmocopia has to rank right up there.

As with many of Filippo's works, especially at this length, a Beatnik/Kerouac's On the Road feel rises from the narrative. Predicting what will happen next is out of the question. This one's no different although it does have some structure.

Three distinct parts make up this short novel. The first part reveals a suspense tale with touches of realism. Frank Lazorg, a famed illustrator of paperback SF from the 60s and 70s, is interviewed by a beautiful young reporter. He loathes his chief competitor -- a cheap knockoff named Rokesby Marrs, who nonetheless is gaining in popularity. It's not the most intriguing of openings, but it picks up when Lazorg seeks his old lover who used to model for him -- back when she was too young to do so. He's been dipping into some strange drugs which has helped him to work on what he sees will be magnum opus. But she refuses, which enrages him to kill her. Not the most likeable of protagonists, initially, but he changes -- in more ways than one.

In the second part, he's thrust into another plane, down the Cosmocopia, closer to the Conceptus, with nothing but his birthday suit. Crutchsump finds him cowering in the Shulgin Mudflats and stealing from alien creatures who fear him as much as he fears them. Pitying him, Crutchsump takes him in. Initially, the grotesqueness of description, the mudflats, the unpleasant ring of names in this foreign land, and the talk of monsters, all make this feel like an otherworldly weird tale if not quite horror. But eventually as Frank settles into this new life, it becomes more of an alien tale -- quite alien.

Frank tries to create his old art, but they don't have that here. He has to make do with a type of sculpture called ideation, involving a tranche that dips into other dimensions. After disaster befalls Crutchsump, Frank takes their child to pursue this plane's god.

The final section has a dreamy fairy-tale logic where he meets old friends and enemies and finally confronts the old god himself. The ending is curiously fitting, satisfying yet unsatisfying. The wild road leads back to the beginning -- ye olde Ouroburos bites itself. It seems as if Di Filippo must recompense the protagonist's despicable opening -- almost. The weirdnesses that came before begats one final weirdness that is somehow fitting, if not raising the narrative above itself. Rather, the pleasure is the journey -- as with most beatnik tales.

Many of Paul Di Filippo's collections and novels have been recently released in ebook formats. I examined a number on my APB blog.

Copyright © 2013 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.


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