Ribofunk, by Paul Di Filippo

ribofunk-by-paul-di-filippoGenre: Cyberpunk
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows
Published: 1996
Reviewer Rating: fourstars
Book Review by Jonathan M. Sullivan

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In this loosely interconnected collection of short stories, DiFillipo has created a world after my own heart, a transgenic world in which the advances of molecular biology have reshaped everything–ecosystems, industries, appliances, political structures, and us. Our mentality, our sexuality, our phenotypes.

In DiFillipio’s world, genetically engineered love-slaves help us whittle away our time while sentient manatees keep our harbors clear of renegade algae. Your sister may be gradually turning herself into a cockroach, but hey, who can talk to kids these days? There may be a ravenous, semi-intelligent mass of nanos hiding under the earth’s crust, ready to take over the entire planet, but who can worry about that when just hooking into your local Net programming might infest your brain with a neural program that causes your speech patterns to devolve into an incessant flow of hip-hop rhyme?

Funk is the word. DiFillipio’s book has been touted as hard sf. Well, I’m not so sure about that. A few of the author’s innovations gave this molecular biologist pause, but with sf like this I’m likely to be pretty damn forgiving.

DiFillipio’s wicked future hangs together nicely, and his stories, while quite simple in their structure overall, are so embellished with fractal detail, earthy flavor and outrageous, twisted humor that the reader has no choice but to get pulled in. Must reading.

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