According to his wife, collaborator and editor, Martha Cornog, Timothy Perper liked to field-test his fiction by reading excerpts in bars. The patrons probably sipped their ales late into the night, as Perper is a gifted storyteller.
This collection contains 14 fantasy and science fiction pieces ranging from the surreal to satire to just plain silly. Many have an existential element that allows readers to form their own opinions about what happens next to the characters and the world around them.
In “Twilight of the Gods: The End of the World gets complicated,” the gods from most mythological and current religions descend on 42nd Street in Manhattan. It’s the end of the world, but, as might be expected, New Yorkers take it in stride, and the gods, who don’t know each other, seem to hit it off. A city cop threatens to arrest archangels Michael and Gabriel for excessive trumpeting, and, when Buddha appears, a street vendor breaks out his shoebox of gold-colored plastic Buddhas. The world may not end after all.
In “Statue, No Limitations,” General Culvershaw and his horse are allowed to return to life from their statue one day each thousand years. A problem arises, however, because each thousand years the general does a noble deed and another statue is erected — and that statue comes to life each thousand years. After millennia, there are so many generals and horses running around no one knows what to do with them.
All of the stories are unique; most are thought provoking; some are delightfully funny. The dialogue between their believable characters is smooth and seamless. And, despite the fact that humor may be the most challenging of genres, the authors frequently create situations that will have readers smiling and occasionally laughing out loud. Even the longest stories fly by.
Perper died in 2014, but Cornog compiled this collection from his copious notes. At book’s end, readers will find themselves hoping she uncovers more of her husband’s work for a companion volume. Perhaps the greatest compliment a reviewer can give a story collection is “I wanted more of them.” We wanted more of them.