Second in a fantasy series compiled by master illusionist Copperfield and freelancer Berliner, following the better David Copperfield's Tales of the Impossible (1995). Few of the tales here are up to the level of the pump primer of that earlier volume. Tops in this collection is Robert Silverberg's ""Crossing to the Empire,"" a story in which the master is so in control of his material that the book's other authors seem hopelessly unoriginal. Silverberg's story imagines that a section of the Byzantine empire, frozen in time, occasionally reappears on the edge of Chicago and stays there for about 50 hours. Chicago border-crossers hop over for some quick trading, offering Swiss army knives, compasses, and cans of Coke for precious stones and jewelry. Several pieces are about magicians, and depend heavily on the idea that some magic tricks turn out to involve real magic. The best of these is Edward Bryant's ""Disillusion,"" possessing a smart enough spin on the idea to lift the tale far above the overfamiliarity of its elements. Tad Williams contributes an amusing Hammett parody, ""The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of,"" in which a sixth-rate Bogey/Spade joins with the daughter of a famous dead magician to recover his lost manuscript. Copperfield's own kickoff story, ""Eagle,"" is ingenious but paper-thin. Eric Lustbader, who provided a strong, moving story for the earlier volume, sets his vulgarometer at a much higher level in ""16 rains.,"" a not particularly impressive tale that turns on Andy Warhol's motto that everybody gets his 15 minutes of fame. But Neil Gaiman's nostalgic ""The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories,"" about a British screenwriter in Hollywood, shouldn't be missed. Also on hand, among others, are Peter S. Beagle, Anne McCaffrey, and Greg Bear. Worthy for its best stories.