The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories
By Paul Di Filippo
(304p.) Thunder's Mouth. $16.95.
Paul Di Filippo is the type of author who is often termed a "cult writer." In other words, he's not well known by the reading world at large but he's well respected among those "in the know". Not that he receives too much respect - he's been nominated numerous times for various awards (Hugo, Nebula, Philip K. Dick, Wired Magazine, World Fantasy) but has never taken home the prize. (He did win a British Science Fiction Association short story award back in 1994.) His previous short story collections have each concentrated on a single facet of his wide range (steampunk, humor, "hard SF", and fantasy to name a few), but this collection of 18 stories is a sampler of his intelligent, accomplished, and whimsical writing. It's very much like a box of chocolates: you never know what you are going to get, but its all pretty tasty. Some may prefer the chewy caramel (in the title story, a lonely modern everyman finds intimacy and a new allegiance online), others like a creamy filling ("A Monument to After-Thought Unveiled" features a young poet Robert Frost who writes "grimly fantastical" pulp fiction and mentors an even younger H.P. Lovecraft, who, socially well-adjusted and happily married, edits Weird Tales) or a nutty crunch ("Ailoura" re-invents "Puss-in-Boots" as an homage to science fiction). Like any collection of treats, this one shouldn't be passed up. -- Paula Guran, CFQ V.37.6/7