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Dangerous Vegetables    by Keith Laumer & Ben Bova order for
Dangerous Vegetables
by Keith Laumer
Order:  USA  Can
Baen, 1998
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Short story anthologies offer a chance to sample explorations of themes by many different writers. There is usually a wide selection on any store's bookshelf, but the title Dangerous Vegetables immediately caught my eye, as well as the tag 'created by Keith Laumer'. As most SF fans know, Laumer's enviable range of talent spans heart-pounding action, thoughtful speculation, and irreverent high-jinks, quite often all in the same tale. Sadly, there is no story by Laumer in this collection, although its twenty-two authors include well-known practitioners of fantasy, science-fiction, suspense, and detective fiction.

The tales run the gamut of classical science-fiction, horror, humour, and at least one candidate for the 'just deserts' category in crime. The styles present the same diversity, from stately tales that recall the golden age of science-fiction of decades ago, to the more forthright, blunt language of Night Bloomer. All the stories present a botanical threat or puzzle for the reader's consideration, and many are thought-provoking as well as entertaining. I generally find that I like most but not all of the stories in such a collection (in this case, there was one that I found quite pointless, but others may react differently). One chilling tale that lingers in my memory is Night Bloomer and I will definitely look for other works by its author David J. Schow.

If you're short on time and looking for a quick and easily digestible read, try Dangerous Vegetables. They're not very edible but they will exercise your mental muscles.
Note: The collection is edited by Charles Waugh & Martin Greenberg.

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