Classics Mutilated - John Shirley;Nancy Collins;Mike Resnick;Kristine Kathryn Rusch;Thomas Tessier;Marc Laidlaw;Rio Youers;Joe R. Lansdale;John Skipp;Cody Goodfellow Taking its cue from "Monster Lit", those faddish take-offs like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Classics Mutilated is a collection of 13 stories that combine different genres, literary classics, and fictional or historical characters. Yet these tales, dubbed"'CTRL-ALT-LIT" by editor Jeff Connor owes most of its zing to the computer age, noticeably the technique of the 'Mash-up"; the mixing together of two or more songs or videos into a new whole. The various authors in this collection are given free rein to mix and mash various ideas and stories creating a eccentric assortment of strange fiction. The result tends to be a bit uneven. The best are brilliant and the least are little more than novelties. Yet when it is good...

Here's a run-down of my favorites.

"Dread Island" by Joe R. Lansdale: Even though it is the last story, I read it first due to both my love for all things Lansdale and its already legendary reputation. The tale is a whopper. Mixing Huckleberry Finn, Lovecraft, and Uncle Remus, Lansdale does a marvelous job channeling Mark Twain through a labyrinth of Brer people and "Cut Through You". Easily the best of the lot. Five stars.

"The Fairest of Them All" by Sean Taylor: Answers the age old question; who would win in a grudge fight between Alice and Snow White? Evokes both Tanith Lee and Angela Carter in its psychological manhandling of the classic fairly tales even if Alice is more Tim Burton than Lewis Carroll. Four stars.

"Anne-droid of Green Gable" by Lezli Robyn: Cute but old-fashioned. If it wasn't for the classic lit twist and the Steampunk, this tale would fit comfortably into Isaac Asimov's robot series. A bit sweet for my taste but quite clever. Three stars

"Death Stopped For Miss Dickinson" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Second best in the collection. A darkly beautiful story featuring the poet Emily Dickinson. There's more than a taste of Charlotte Bronte in this evocative work. Five stars

"Pokky Man" by Marc Laidow: A weird little send-up of Werner Herzog and Pokemon. Your enjoyment of this story will probably be parallel to your knowledge of the excellent documentary, "Grizzly Man" by Herzog. Personally I was LMAO. Four stars.

'From Hell's Heart" by Nancy Collins: I haven't read Collins for ages. This great piece of fiction tells me I need to check her out again. The author brings back Captain Ahab from Moby Dick in a story that pits the literary style of Herman Melville against Algernon Blackwood. This is the most chilling of the tales. No pun intended. Five stars.

"The Green Menace" by Thomas Tessier. Joseph McCarthy vs. frogs. Yes, i said "frogs". Short, a bit of a one punch-line story but fun. Three stars.

"Quoth the Rock Star" by Rio Youers: Jim Morrison meets Edgar Allen Poe, more or less. Good tense style evoking both Poe's dread and Morrison's rock and Roll angst. Four stars.

The rest go from near miss to "by a mile". However all of them are entertaining in one way or another. This is a nifty anthology with a nice gimmick and good authors who can pull it off. Don't miss the awesome illustrations by Mike Dubish and the striking cover art by Menton3.