12 April 2010

Paul Di Filippo - Ribofunk

  • Author: Paul Di Filippo
  • Title: Ribofunk
  • Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows 1996
  • ISBN: 9781568580623
Di Filippo coined the term Ribofunk to describe fiction of a near future where biotechnology dominates the world culturally, politically and economically.  Yes, it is a play on Cyberpunk.  Ribo as in Ribosome, Funk as in music.

  Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a big fan of biotech fiction, but this collection that started the whole thing is actually pretty good.  I usually find that biotech gets silly very quickly, but Di Filippo manages to keep the whole thing fairly firmly grounded.   I particularly enjoyed the sequence of detective stories, but there wasn't a story in here that I didn't at least like. 

This book is worth reading largely for it's historical importance to SF overall.  Di Filippo has done much better work, but it is not the quality of the work that is at issue here so much as the subject matter.  It was a pivotal book for the genre, but also demonstrates why biotech fiction is not particularly prevalent.  I think Di Filippo used all of the ideas in these stories.  There is not much else to say on the subject of Ribofunk.

After the jump is a list of and brief descriptions for the stories in the book. 
  • One Night in Television City - If you can be doped so that you can climb vertical surfaces for a few hours, that's great.  But how the hell do you get back down?
  • Little Worker - Genetic memory at work perhaps?  Those wolverine teeth certainly helped.
  • Cockfight - Now this kind of cockfighting is fine by me.  Grow yourself some spurs, try to rip your oponents guts out.
  • The Boot - The first of the detective stories, totally hard boiled hard ass. 
  • Blankie - The second detective story.  I sure as hell wouldn't wrap my kid in a live biotech blanket.  Hunting down a serial killer means you need to figure out the motive.  The motive in this case?  Jealousy, semen and a blankie.  Heehee, it's actually pretty sick when you know what I am talking about!
  • The Bad Splice - Well, maybe not so bad really, he just wanted equal rights for splices, right?
  • McGregor - Peter Rabbit and friends, as a live action display.  That farmer might have seemed nice in the books, but he's really an asshole. Little Peter escapes one day, and falls in with Krazy Kat.  He returns one dark night several months later to free his fellows.  This was the best story in the book.
  • Streetlife - This story illustrates the reasons behind Krazy Kat.  People are fucked.
  • Afterschool Special - A pair of kids get some mods done, even though their parents said they couldn't.  Hilarity ensues.
  • Up The Lazy River - One human, one robot, several genemod fishermen and a swamp monster. 
  • Distributed Mind - So this guy has turned himself into a virus sort of that takes over cells and he takes over a whole town so the town is him, but still the town and everyone is a simulation of themselves but they are still them but they aren't because they are him and I don't get it.