Dario Tonani – born in Milan, 1959 – is one of the main authors of Italy’s science fiction scene. He has published various novels and around 80 short stories in anthologies, national newspapers and in the most important Italian magazines of the genre (Urania, Giallo Mondadori, Segretissimo, Millemondi, Robot). His most successful series, consisting of two novels and eleven short stories is set in a Milan of the future where doped cartoons (known as +toons) roam the streets infecting the citizens with a new powerful drug which is transmitted via the retina. His first title Infect@, runner-up at the “Premio Urania” 2005 and published in 2007 by Mondadori, was optioned for a film. The sequel Toxic@ was published in 2011 together with other short stories relating to the saga. In 2012 Tonani completed his steampunk/horror saga set on World-9, the story of a giant sentient ship-truck grappling with a wild and poisonous planet. The four stories that make up the series have all been published under the title Mondo9 (Delos Books): Cardanica, Robredo, Chatarra and Afritania. After achieving great success in Italy, the first of them is being published in the US, where it has earned the praise of undisputed steampunk maestro, Paul Di Filippo. Dario has won numerous awards: Tolkien, 1989; Lovecraft, 1994 and ’99; Italia, 1989, 1992, 2000, 2012. The best of his sci-fi short stories is found in the Infected Files anthology published in 2011 – both on paper and in digital format – by Delos Books. Official website: www.dariotonani.it
Three questions from the father of Steampunk, Paul Di Filippo, on the occasion of the publication of Mondo9. War between flesh and gears, sci-fi books and movies, but – first of all – is Science Fiction really exhausted as many experts say?
Paul Di Filippo: What is you opinion on the recent assertion by Paul Kincaid and Jonathan McCalmont that science fiction is exhausted? That the genre is merely recycling old tropes, and doing nothing new, and refusing to engage with reality, and turning into pure fantasy? How does your own writing attempt to counter this trend, if indeed you acknowledge its existence?
Dario Tonani: Nowadays the future permeates every corner of our lives, it seeps into our every activity, it’s everywhere: given this state of affairs, it’s quite understandable how a literary genre which by its very nature is measured against tomorrow ends up losing its seductive power even before its driving force. Maybe the genre will turn its attention elsewhere, perhaps to fantasy or to so-called paranormal fiction. At a time when the future is presented in images – just think of film, TV, advertising, video games – it seems of little interest that science fiction authors use the medium of words to describe it. And because progress is just so fast, science fiction can become a subject that is entirely credible. Clarke said that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’, perhaps it’s for this reason we SFauthors have slipped out of our groove – through a total lack of ability to keep pace with the developments of science and technology. I genuinely don’t believe it’s surrender. It looks more like responsible awareness; there’s no point in making risky predictions when you can simply take a path and follow it, in a word ‘fantasise’. And fantasising, entertain. I’ve never wanted to describe something before it became evident to anybody else, I just want to recount my ideas and dreams. I’ve written stories that stand proudly on just one big toe of consistency. I’m not interested in comfortable shoes soled in sound scientific basis. I don’t have to convince anyone, let alone sell a possible or probable future. I’m just a poor Argonaut…