cover image Kaleidscope


Harry Turtledove. Del Rey Books, $3.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-345-36477-7

In an aptly titled collection, the author of A Different Flesh offers 13 entertaining and highly varied tales, mingling SF with fantasy and mainstream fiction. ``A Difficult Undertaking,'' set in the Empire of Videssos depicted in four earlier Turtledove novels, shows a commander under siege outwitting his enemy with cunning and dead pigeons. ``Gentlemen of the Shade'' are refined Victorian vampires who exact a heavy penalty from Jack the Ripper for poaching (and poor taste). The numbers in the forecast are not degrees Fahrenheit but dates in ``The Weather's Fine'': when the temperature hits 68, bell bottoms and incense bloom for those who can't take refuge in ``year conditioning,'' which provides a stable 1980s environment. In ``The Road Not Taken,'' aliens are appalled by their discovery of human beings' exceptionally warlike abilities, especially when they unwittingly give these dangerous creatures the technology for unlimited access to the universe. ``Crybaby'' is an infant with suspect motives whose wail--``like the sudden malignant whine of a dentist's drill''--pushes his father to commit an atrocity. (Apr.)