Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Joining us today is prolific science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer Paul Di Filippo. Di Filippo has multiple collections to his credit, including The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories, Fractal Paisleys, Lost Pages, and many more. His latest collection, The Steampunk Trilogy, is available now from Open Road Media. Di Filippo has written a number of novels as well, including Joe’s Liver and Spondulix: A Romance of Hoboken.
We think Paul may have invented a kind of gross sandwich, but he swears we’ll love it…
Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.
In my elementary school days, when my two best pals and I played The Man From U.N.C.L.E., (complete with beautiful authorized replica guns) they always insisted on taking the roles of Napolean Solo and Illya Kuryakin, leaving me to be elderly and dour Mr. Waverly. Secretly, I liked that role, since it let me be as bossy as I wanted without over-exerting my fat little self by running around a lot. And The Man From U.N.C.L.E. digest magazine was the first adult magazine I ever had my own subscription to, leading to a lifelong love affair with that medium.
What’s your favorite sandwich?
Peanut butter on whole wheat bread with slices of pepperoni sausage—the hard, dry, stick-style pizza kind. Don’t scoff or gag—try it!
What is your ideal pet (real or fictional)?
Andre Norton’s The Beast Master presented an appealing model of deep friendship among humans and non-humans that I fancied for a long time after encountering it. Heinlein’s flatcats were fun too. But my prime fictional pal—not a pet, per se, but co-equal—had to be the giant otters from James Schmitz’s The Demon Breed. I’ve dreamed of hanging out with them for decades now.
Do you have a favorite under-read author?
That would have to be Christopher Morley. Once a famous best-selling, taste-setting literary mandarin, he’s out of print and mostly forgotten today, except for maybe one volume, The Haunted Bookshop. But he never wrote a bad sentence, and his novel Where the Blue Begins is a genius animal fable. I buy copies whenever I see one, just to give away. Morley was whimsical yet a realist, optimistic yet melancholy, fond of both high and low culture. Hard to imagine his like today.
If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your upcoming book, who would it be?
I am currently working on a novel to be titled Up Around the Bend, after the famous Credence Clearwater Revival song. That’s on infinite loop during the course of the book. But I have also taken as chapter headings the track listings for a Crazy Horse album of the same period. Lots of loud guitars in this one.
What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc…all fair game!)
I and my mate Deborah are currently embarked on viewing the complete filmic legacy of Hopalong Cassidy. We’ve now seen about fifteen out of some sixty-plus films. They are formulaic, melodramatic, silly, cliched, repetitive—and yet somehow they can often move one to great emotions, and they never drag, most of them only an hour or so long. They are a lesson in the vigor of mass entertainment and storytelling.
If you could be incarnated as any historical figure, who would you like to be?