Paul Di Filippo was born in 1954 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and has remained a loyal native resident of the state ever since. (He currently lives in Providence, two blocks distant from the granite marker commemorating the birthplace of H. P. Lovecraft.) He met his mate, Deborah Newton, while attending RI College in 1976, and they are rapidly approaching their fiftieth anniversary.
Paul’s interest in books and writing dates to an early age. His first recalled contact with both comics and science fiction happened in the summer of 1960 when, in between first and second grade, he encountered the Dell Giant Comic MIGHTY MOUSE IN OUTER SPACE. From there, it was a swift immersion in Silver Age comics, Andre Norton novels, and all the rest of the vast field of fantastika. His oldest surviving bit of juvenilia is some MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. fan fiction, laboriously typed on his Mom’s manual typewriter. He wrote for his high school and college newspapers, sold a story to UNEARTH MAGAZINE in 1977, then decided in 1982 to plunge full-steam into turning himself into a professional writer. It took a while, and the process is never finished. His forty-eighth book, a story collection titled STARFIELDS, just appeared from Wildside, while his forty-ninth book, a novel titled VANGIE’S GHOSTS, appears in 2024 from Blackstone. He hopes to survive to produce a fiftieth book, and perhaps even more.
If you were transported into one of your books as a character, what kind of character would you be and what kind of adventures would you have?
The answer to this is self-evident to anyone who reads my novel FUZZY DICE. The hero is a bookstore clerk named Paul (I worked at Brown University Bookstore at the time of composition), and his misadventures span the multiverse, from a continuum ruled by hippies to one where every “individual” is a Sturgeonesqe gestalt. I see myself as blundering around like a lesser De Camp & Pratt protagonist.
If you could time travel to any point in history, which era would you choose, and why?
I would go back to Greenwich Village, NYC, in the Fifties, listen to all the great jazz of that era, and try to locate any of the Beats to hang out with.
If you could have any fictional pet as a companion, what would it be and why?
This is easy. Ever since I read James Schmitz’s THE DEMON BREED, I’ve fantasized about having a giant sentient otter-type companion. I love watching videos where lucky folks have baseline otters as pets. And in my space opera THE SUMMER THIEVES, I gave the hero a chimeric human-otter-based pal.
If you had to choose one of your books to be turned into a cheesy made-for-TV movie, which one would it be and who would you want to play the lead roles?
I often thought my novel SPONDULIX would be very filmable. It has a contemporary setting—no SFX needed—and involves a kind of cryptocurrency that bids fair to take over the world. It originally appeared as a novella in 1995, and at that time—sheesh, almost thirty years ago!—I envisioned Jeff Bridges playing the lead, and Susan Sarandon playing his love interest. Of course, they’re now too old!
If you could alter any one single natural law, what would it be and how would you change it?
I’m not sure it qualifies as a natural law, but it’s a proclivity of the universe—and human society–to make entropic disasters easy to cause while effecting positive change is always harder. For instance, I read once about a man who dashed through a TSA line without stopping. The entire airport had to be shut down for hours. All that chaos is caused by the simple exertion of a few seconds of running by one person. Whereas if you wanted to, oh, speed up the TSA line, you’d have to invest hundreds of new personnel and man-hours. This is a bad way to run the universe! I tried to dig into this concept a little in my story “Sweet Spots,” where the young hero acquires the ability to utilize the Butterfly Effect for good causes. He takes one unusual step to the left, say, and the next thing you know, Publisher’s Clearing House is cutting him a check!
You can buy STARFIELDS on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Starfields-Short-Stories-Paul-Filippo/dp/B0CGTP9YNY/