After some 50 books and 100 short stories, Lupoff has yet to achieve stardom, but he remains a skillful and inventive practitioner of lighter fantasy, as shown in this somewhat mixed collection. The opening tale, ""Black Mist,"" about a Japanese space station on a Martian moon, gets bogged down in its Japanese idiom. Similarly, ""The Second Drug,"" a pastiche of the overwritten, exotic stories of a century ago, is a heavyweight exercise in nostalgia. Humor is Lupoff's strong suit, for he can be quite funny, though again he can overindulge. ""Lux Was Dead Right"" flounders in a welter of ""inside"" referential puns. In ""Documents in the Case of Elizabeth Akeley,"" an homage to H.P. Lovecraft, the author's weakness for Yiddish humor slows down the story. Even in a more serious effort at using Lovecraft, the kaleidoscopic ""Discovery of the Ghooric Zone,"" which has an unexpectedly poignant scene of the death of HPL's aunt, Lupoff is compelled to drag in the old pop tune ""Bei Mir Bist du Schon"" for irony. Fortunately, when he is in control, as in ""The Tootsie Roll Factor,"" about a compulsive gambler saved by Lady Luck as an 11-year-old freckled girl, he knows precisely when to stop. And in ""At Vega's Tacqueria"" he offers an alternate world story to end the genre, with worlds changing every paragraph. ""So laugh a little already,"" Lupoff seems to say. (Apr.) FYI: A $100 limited deluxe hardcover edition (ISBN 1-930846-01-0) is available for collectors. Lupoff will be the guest of honor at NecronomiCon in August.
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001 Release date: 04/01/2001 Genre: Fiction