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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Briefs: new ebooks: Paul di Filippo's Emperor of Gondwanaland

Emperor of Gondwanaland: As Paul di Filippo promised, this non-themed collection does have something you'll like, a probably a few less flavorful, depending on your tastes.  Five stories, including the collection itself, were nominated for the Locus award, the title story placing highest at third.

It opens with the over-varnished "Anselmo Merino", which reenvisions Melville's "Benito Cereno" with aliens and forbidden love at sea.  (At SF Site, I favorably reviewed "Clouds and Cold Fires" in di Filippo's short ebook collection, After the Collapse).

The title story, "Emperor of Gondwanaland", first appeared in Interzone.  Mutt Splender is an editor at PharmaNotes, a job he hates.  Surfing the net, he comes across a micro nation--an imaginary country--called Gondwanaland.  He strikes a chat with IlonaG, one of the many folks who seem to be keeping up the elaborate make-believe country.  Mutt finds himself in love with her, so he travels to find not just the country but this woman.  This updated Borgesian--the fact that Mutt travels to Buenos Aires, Argentina seems a nod to Borges--search for an imaginary country impresses and is one of the finest jewels of the collection.

"And the Dish Ran away with the Spoon" graced Dozois' Year's Best.  It tells the narrator's woes with smart house appliances.  As a child, the narrator had his parents killed by such appliances, so he's reluctant to move in  with his girlfriend who wants them.  But the appliances force him to change his ways.

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