Fourteen speculative stories, 1981-92, from the author of Good News from Outer Space, (1989), with the emphasis on allegory and unlikely juxtapositions rather than ideas or invention. Thus: amoral time-hopping immortals; winning is losing; a Big Sleep variation, wherein Raymond Chandler meets his own characters; an allegory on the impossibility of meaningful communication, featuring a lecturer who never ceases; memory erasure; Faust meets the Marx brothers; a post-nuclear variation; an allegory on the futility of modern existence, cast as an endless drive to nowhere; a sort of ``Down and Out in Beverly Hills'' doppelgÑnger; Pizarro, the Incas, and coke-addicted aliens; baseball; an allegory on imprisonment; a commodities broker who swaps metaphysics with Captain Ahab aboard the Pequod; and an H.G. Wells meets the author's father. Philosophy swamps originality: readers irritated by allegory- -by stories written primarily for effect and top-heavy with significance--will find little diversion here. Of course the converse is true, too.