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by Paul Di Filippo

Pub Date: April 11th, 1995
ISBN: 1-56858-028-2

 Three long tales, one previously unpublished, set in the same alternate, tongue-in-cheek Victorian era and featuring mingled historical and imaginary characters, as well as a rather heavy- handed emphasis on sex. In ``Victoria,'' dilettante scientist Cosmo Cowperthwait has bred an exotic, sexy young woman from newt tissue and installed her in a brothel. Meanwhile, the real Queen Victoria runs away, and the Prime Minster, Lord Melborne, borrows the newt to impersonate the Queen. ``Hottentots,'' the original and longest piece here, stars the famous scientist Louis Agassiz, an avowed racist in the high-Victorian-scientist manner; he's obliged to team up with Cave Towner Hendrik Cezar and his--horrors!--Bushman wife, Dottie, in order to hunt down an African sorcerer who's stolen a powerful fetish from a black magician--the late Baron Cuvier, no less! And in ``Walt and Emily,'' Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson become involved, sexually and otherwise, in an attempt to reach the spirit world, where, in an instant of suspended time, they will meet the future ghosts of Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, and Ezra Pound. Smile-worthy, sometimes; funny, no. While a certain frivolity is evident, readers pleased by historical-literary games should find much to entertain them; others will find Di Filippo's debut clever and impressive, but ultimately without consequence.