cover image By Any Other Fame

By Any Other Fame

. Daw Books, $4.99 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-88677-594-0

Several leading lights among SF writers ask, What if some of the world's greatest celebrities had taken different paths in life? We get such wacky, creative ideas as Gypsy Rose Lee as private eye, Groucho Marx playing Rhett Butler and Toscanini as manager of the Yankees. Few of the stories, though, reach beyond the initial cleverness. One of the few highlights has Marilyn Monroe surviving her addiction to drugs and going on to a career in politics. Beth Meacham deftly tells this tale of actress turned president (with lots of nice parallels to Ronald Reagan) creating a feminist revolution in general society and in the nation's press corps until John Hinkley guns her down in 1981. Also notable are Kristine Kathryn Rusch's similar story of Lillian Hellman as a senator; Michelle Sagara's four versions of the same letter from Golda Meir to her sister in 1948, when she is acting prime minister of Israel; and Barry Maltzberg's speculation on what would have happened had Hitler lived to stand trial at Nuremberg. Generally, however, this anthology ends up promising far more than it delivers. Resnick edited Whatdunits. (Jan.)