Lost Among the Stars by Paul Di Filippo

Lost Among the Stars by Paul Di Filippo
Publisher: WordFire Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal, Historical
Length: Full Length (201 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In this astonishing, variegated assortment of tales, award-winning author Paul Di Filippo covers all the themes and modes he is best-known for, and ventures into new territory as well.

—Visit a hermetic city where beauty is the only currency.

—Experience a steampunk fable in which nothing is what it first seems, and a young man’s future rests on finding his true father.

—Hang out with the techno-savvy, social-media gypsies who form the new elite in the not-too-distant future.

—Ride a wild ribofunk express train into the badlands where a man’s skin is not his own.

—Experience a counterfacutal World War II where victory is acheived by amazing rays.

—Vist a haunted Italian city where the Neolithic and the present live side-by-side, and a hero who falls in love with a goddess must battle her ancient foe.

—Visit an Orwellian future redeemed only by the imagination and love of a tortured dissenter.

These are just some of the uncanny tales contained in this collection, incorporating comedy and tragedy, laughter and tears!

Sometimes science makes the world a better place, but it’s impossible to tell in advance if this will actually happen.

My favourite tale was “Desperados of the Badlands.” It followed a man named Ruy who wore a manufactured suit of skin that kept his body safe and helped him track down bad guys. What I found most interesting about his adventures was how dangerous they were even with the assistance of such advanced technology. He experienced thing that no regular person would ever expect to feel. This made it really hard to stop reading because I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to Ruy next.

One of the things I noticed about many of the stories in this collection is that they had incredibly abrupt endings. I was enamoured by how all of them began, but their final scenes often left me feeling confused because of how many loose ends they left untied. The biggest example of this was “City of Beauty, City of Scars.” It followed Tono from his birth to a woman who had very low status to his ascension to the upper classes in a society that harshly judged and sorted everyone based on their physical attractiveness. I was excited to find out what would happen to this character if he made it to the highest level of Aesthetica, so it was disappointing to reach the end with so many unanswered questions about him and the culture he was born into.

The main character in “Ghostless” was woman named Ilona who could see and communicate with spirits. When she’d caught the attention of several dozen of them who all crave her attention, she had to decide what to do with them. What I liked the most about this one is how much creativity was folded into the plot. There were things that happened in it that I never would have thought to include if I were writing about ghosts and what happens after someone dies, but they all worked incredibly well for all of the characters who were involved in it.

Lost Among the Stars should be read by anyone who is a die-hard fan of science fiction.

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