An uneven anthology (second in the series) of stories selected by the editor to speak ``to our spiritual nature''—and to our emotions and intellect—in clearly recognizable epiphanies. Obscure, they're not. The ten original tales here, by largely new writers, have little in common but their ability to enlighten and inspirit. Settings vary from Nicaragua to distant galaxies, and characters are as disparate. Two stories—``A Very Safe Man'' and ``Elevator Up''—reflect a rather heavy-handed satire of the status quo as they suggest a world where, first, a group calling itself the IRS and purporting to encourage ``organized apathy'' is in effect working to end complacency; and, second, a middle-aged man refuses to give his brain to a mysterious Corporation in return for lifelong financial security and peace of mind. Stories like ``Harvest,'' in which the ``dark reaper'' is both an agent of life and death, and ``Maura's Vision,'' in which an emanation from another dimension saves the lives of a young couple, are more indebted to science fiction. Other pieces depict the high price of integrity (``The Price of Limes in Managua''); the limits of illusion in a marriage (``Pearl, Shadow and Light''); accepting the many faces of love (``Family Tree''); and, in the weakest and most derivative story, four assorted characters, taking shelter during a German air raid in wartime London, realize they're not alone (``Four in the Blast''). Only Tom Traub's ``Becoming the Chief'' and Brenda Vantrease's ``A Quality Piece''—about a would-be magic practitioner in small-town Louisiana, and a young girl who defies her mother's sleazy auctioneer boyfriend—have the polish and professionalism of first-class fiction. Likely to please New Agers—and all those who like a tale with a tag.
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