‘Science Fiction’ by Paul Di Filippo
With the honourable exception of Jeffrey Ford, Witpunk has so far been neither funny or good so I thought I would flip to the usually reliable Di Filippo. Unfortunately he doesn’t buck the trend.
It is traditional beginner’s advice to young wannabes not to writer about writers because of the risk of falling headlong into a recursive loop of pure tedium. Of course, rules are made to be broken; consider Ford’s superb ‘Bright Morning’. Di Filippo’s story of a SF writer with writer’s block, on the other hand, falls straight into the previously mentioned mobius. At first it does catch the attention though, thanks to the highly distinctive style it is written in:
The problem of washing one’s hands. When bums barricade the sinks. Corso hesitates, shifting his soft modern satchel from hand to socially unsanctioned postmicturating hand. When one of the mendicants departs. Leaving the taps running. So that one doesn’t even have to touch them. Saving one from contact with numerous New York germs too vile to mention.
The whole thing is like that which is okay for a couple of pages but gets tiresome quickly and after that the story really drags. Corso is suffering from hallucinations caused by stress-related mental illness. Except it isn’t mental illness, it is the “dicky fits”, a special sort of awareness of the universe that affects some science fiction writers and grants them a type of godhood. Needless to say the story is dedicated to Philip K Dick which seems rather poor taste.