Fifteen reprinted stories, 198096, one new tale, two poems, and a play that's blurbed as ``award-winning,'' even though it's listed as original to this collection. More problematic yet, the publishers failed to notice, or didn't care, that no fewer than eight of these yarns, including the title piece, appeared in Kessel's 1992 collection, Meeting in Infinity. Those eight aside, then, what's left? Well, several yarns reflect Kessel's ponderously allegorical tendencies (a search for enlightenment; a relativistic joke; people owned by aliens), while the remainder play literary games with famous names: Marilyn Monroe rescued by corrupt time travelers; Herman Melville as a pulp sf writer; Lemuel Gulliver's wife reflects (the new story); in the 1959 World Series, Giants hurler Fidel Castro goes head to head with Senators' first baseman George Bush; and director Preston Sturges turns up dead, having been replaced by a superior doppelgÑnger. No matter what the merits of Kessel's material, this sort of lazy and indifferent publishing does everybody a disservice.