Twenty-six big laughs at the way the world turns, half originals, half reprints, mostly SF and fantasy but also crime fiction, horror, and realism.
Lalumière, a Montreal writer, is a former magazine editor and owner of a bookshop devoted to “the fantastic, the imaginative, and the weird.” Co-editor Halpern also edits SF’s Golden Gryphon Press and was a 2001 World Fantasy Award finalist. In creating an anthology of strongly sardonic fiction, containing not just classics but flavored with contemporary tales by unknowns, they hit upon the facetious rubric “witpunk,” which would not be filled with “rote reiterations of tired old tropes [that] bore you to death.” Of the 24 writers, some slap you upside the head, others turn to dark irony. Among the standouts are the celebrated Robert Silverberg’s wonderful “Amanda and the Alien” (filmed in 1995), in which an adolescent girl spots an alien masquerading as another adolescent girl and takes her home for the weekend to help the alien shape up her act. Two-time Hugo-winner Allen M. Steele’s “The Teb Hunter” tells of hunting season opening on hungry little tebs. Tebs, it turns out, are bioengineered teddy bears that have developed vocal abilities and say things like “Come out and play. . . come out and play” and “I wuv you so much!” Loaded for bear, the hunters set traps with a tiny table, four wooden chairs, and kindergarten lawn furniture from Toys “R” Us. (“. . . [If] God had meant animals to talk he would’a . . . I dunno. Given ’em a dictionary or sum’pin.”) Jeffrey Ford’s brief prose poem, “Spicy Detective,” is “a shiv in the kidneys, a brass-knuckle sandwich for grandma,” while Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet’s “I Love Paree” reports in mock Parisian lingo (“normalment”) on the night the lights went out in Club Dialtone on Boul’ Disney.
Ringingly brilliant, far better than its title.