E.Godz

Robert Asprin, Author, Esther Friesner, Joint Author Baen Books $17 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7434-3605-2

In this lightweight stand-alone fantasy from Thieves' World creator Asprin (Myth-Ion Improbable) and Nebula winner Friesner (Up the Wall), the feud between Edwina Godz's two children, daughter Peez and son Dov, threatens E. Godz, Inc., the conglomerate of magical entrepreneurs Edwina has built up. A message from Edwina, who lives in the hyperborean wilderness of Poughkeepsie, New York, that she's on her deathbed launches the pair on a frantic, cross-country search for supporters in the family business. Peez travels with a talking teddy bear, Teddy Tumtum, while Dov has Ammi, an equally voluble amulet. In this innocuous satire, the only evil is the ignorance of Peez and Dov in not realizing that the various spiritual leaders they encounter in their journey and dismiss as charlatans, such as Ray Rah and his self-styled Temple of Seshat-by-the-Shore and California's Reverend Everything, are actually doing more good than harm, and that their own rivalry is stupid and vicious. In the end, they must learn a final lesson at their mother's hands. The authors deliver an intelligent romp, quite erudite about folklore, religion and their cultist outcroppings in contemporary America. (May)