To reach and occupy the Pink Pagoda of the title is the object of the game of which this ""novel""--actually a nearly incoherent skein of loosely linked stories--purports to be a manual. What a shame that first-timer Moss' clever notion of crafting fiction about an extraordinary board game suffers so badly from his truly stupefying literary self-indulgences. Prefacing the 24 stories included as ""Model Games"" are instructions for ""the Game"" that set the muddled, preposterously pretentious tone for what follows. For example: ""According to the Rules of Transferability, all such things are possible, but when nothing can be ruled out, why cannot the Figure in the Grounds be also the Body in the Burned-out Church, with only the Rule of Time altered to make it so?"" And so on. After trekking through this wasteland of pompous nonsense, one reaches, as if reaching an oasis, the illustrative tales: only to find that here, too, sense and meaning are mirages merely. The stories, all short, do follow a certain order: each is written in the style, if poorly imitated, of a particular literary mode (Biblical, fairy tale, medieval quest, English drawing-room mystery, American private-eye, Bradburian science fiction, etc.), with the chronologically earlier styles preceding the later. Each story involves pieces and places of the Game cited in the instructions, sometimes with characters consciously playing the game, and sometimes not, and with each making as much sense, approximately, as the execution of this project as a whole: next to none. Trivial pursuits.