This varied collection of stories from Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine--an innovative small-run series that lasted for 12 roughly quarterly issues--demonstrates the success of that venture with many quality pieces, but also includes a number of stories that hardly deserve a place in any ``Best Of'' volume. The first third of the book is especially strong, including Edward Bryant's ``While She Was Out,'' a chilling tale of a woman finding courage and hidden strength in combating a gang of murderous punks; Alan Brennert's quirky but sure-handed meditation on gender, ``The Third Sex''; and Nancy Collins's bizarre love story, ``The Two-Headed Man.'' In the latter pages, disappointments increase, and some repetitive themes become irritating--serial killers, for example, are much too common, though some of the best stories here use this tired character-type to powerful effect (e.g., Bradley Denton's ``The Murderer Chooses Sterility''). Other stories of note include Joyce Thompson's ``Boat People,'' Susan Palwick's ``Offerings,'' and Adam-Troy Castro's ``Clearance to Land,'' an impressive debut piece. Pulphouse's predilection for horror shows clearly: more than half the stories are overtly horrific. Overall, the collection's best are as good as those in any other genre market, but the relatively high number of inferior pieces mars its overall impact, and the self-congratulatory tone of the introductory material grows quickly tiresome.