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Fuzzy Dice

by Paul Di Filippo

(PS Publishing, £35, 296 pages, signed, numbered, limited edition hardback, also available as signed, numbered, limited edition slipcased hardback, priced £60, published 2003.)

Paul Girard is a morose ex-hippy cover scanworking in a dead-end bookshop job and grappling with the mysteries of life. He's expecting a quiet breakfast before the shop opens for business. He's not expecting to be visited by a universe-hopping robot shrub from an alternate future, who offers him a ticket to all the parallel realities he can imagine in the form of a quantum yo-yo. Failure of a whole new order of magnitude awaits him.

It's apt that Rudy Rucker pens the introduction to Fuzzy Dice, because this book appears to be nothing less than the bastard offspring of Rucker's White Light and Sheckley's Dimension of Miracles -- a gonzo philosophical SF odyssey for the 21st century. High scientific concepts are played out for laughs -- a universe composed of the lowest form of artificial life, cellular automata; a world where child development is absolutely influenced by morphic fields; the Butterfly Effect pushed to absurd extremes on an Earth where Chaos Theory is made manifest. Fuzzy Dice is full to bursting with ideas, and a worthy successor to its influences. It's vibrant; it's exciting. Let the bastard inherit the throne!

The book is not without its faults, although Di Filippo does his best to work with them rather than against them. The "nostalgia" section wears thin pretty quickly, but this seems to be the point, and that world's shortcomings are implicitly acknowledged in the novel's denouement. There's also slightly too much reliance on sex to keep the story rolling, but on reflection it's not entirely out of keeping with the novel's lineage. I'm sure it's no accident that Di Filippo's cosmos includes a world where the Seventies just kept going.

Fuzzy Dice is, in summary, a modern-day Seventies high-concept knockabout SF comedy, and great fun to boot. Perhaps we might dub this novel White Light: Reloaded?

Review by John Toon.
An extract from Fuzzy Dice is available elsewhere on this site.

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