INTERVIEW: PAUL DI FILIPPO
Can you remember what originally got you interested in alternative fiction?
Having spent my (mis)formative years in SF fandom, the grandaddy of the small press scene, I was keenly aware of the Do-It-Yourself tradition in publishing. I always had the sense that there were plenty of outlets other than big New York publishers—and that if you didn't like even the small ones that existed, you could start your own! When Factsheet Five first appeared, I got excited all over again at the potential of the small press/alternative media scene. Mike Gunderloy deserves to have a monument erected to him—or a small shrine in every home.
In what ways has it been helpful for you to be as richly familiar with the alternative and canonical traditions as you are?
I'm a big believer in lineage and history: as someone or other said, "It's not cool to be ignorant of your own culture." If you want to participate in something, it behooves you to immerse yourself deeply and get up to speed as fast as possible. Although everyone's learning curve will have a different degree of slope, there's no excuse for reinventing the wheel. Unless of course you can improve on it!
What three or four alternative texts would you suggest to a writer just coming to that neighborhood for the first time?
I would recommend any of Don Webb's short-story collections as an example of what can be done fiction-wise in the small press venue. The Loompanics catalog might be a good place for browsers interested in the range of philosophies present in the underground, as would the huge compilation issued not too long ago by Amok Books. ReSearch books remain monumental testaments to ingenuity and accomplishment.
Paul Di Filippo's first published story, "Falling Expectations," appeared in the small press zine UnEarth in 1977. His novel, Joe's Liver, is from Cambrian. This interview first appeared in Rebel Yell (1998).