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Science Fiction. Short Stories single Author.

Collection: Shuteye for the Timebroker by Paul Di Filippo

Enter a search term Clear search. Use the classic catalog. Author Paul Di Filippo.

Summary You can try to escape from the mundane, or with the help of Paul Di Filippo, you can take a short, meaningful break from it. Enter your library card number to reset your PIN. Enter your library card number. Reset PIN.

Shuteye for the Timebroker — Kalamazoo Public Library

Instead you get something that moves with the illogic of dream, often towards a weak joke or a weaker pun. Without any of the relevant pictures, which might provide some resonance to help us appreciate these vignettes, these seem feeble little exercises which bring the collection to a clunky, discordant end. Fortunately, sandwiched between this uninteresting opening and uninspired close, there are 12 other stories which are, in the main, considerably better. Di Filippo is a writer who likes to shift restlessly between styles and manners, though his most common mode is the humorous. Not outright comedy, but the sort of thing that leaves you smiling without necessarily understanding why.

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It's the sort of trick that writers like R. Lafferty and Howard Waldrop pull of with aplomb. Di Filippo is not quite so adept, every so often he will try to be straightforwardly funny, as in "The Secret Sutras of Sally Strumpet" in which a writer finds his own reality becoming tenuous as his fictional creation takes on flesh.

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The trouble is, when he's trying to be funny is when he's most likely to be predictable. The story of Sally Strumpet may not exactly be the same as a dozen others you've read, but it feels like it. Considerably better is the title story in which Di Filippo does pay homage to Lafferty set in a world in which drugs allow us to remain awake 24 hours a day.

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Cast as a tragedy, in which a high-flyer in this world gradually loses status until he is ejected into the underworld of the sleepers, it still maintains a sly, wry tone which is perhaps the best combination of drama and comedy in the book. When he is not trying to be humorous, his touch is better. There is an effective little horror story set on the New York subway, "Underground"; an elegantly recursive story about writing a science fiction story, "Distances"; a pleasing fable, "Walking the Great Road", which ends up similarly recursive.

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A couple of the tales have neat premises which don't really pay off as a neat story: "Slowhand and Little Sister" about a meeting that never happened between Eric Clapton and Janis Joplin doesn't actually go anywhere; and "We"re All in this Alone," a collaboration with Michael Bishop, starts as a wonderfully intriguing thriller about murders tied to bizarre snippets in a local paper, but descends into the surreal as if the authors could think of no satisfactory way to end the story they began.

In other words, what this collection demonstrates is a wayward talent. Though one of the more intriguing aspects of Di Filippo's ability to put on and discard voices at will is his occasionally ability to write well in the tones of someone else. In Poe's original, if I remember aright, we see the effects of loneliness on the mind of a man at a remote lighthouse.