[It’s] a bracing collection of short stories by a Canadian writer whose influences range from Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker to Donald Barthelme and Roald Dahl.
As knowledgeable about computers as he is about flea markets, Doctorow uses science fiction as a kind of cultural WD-40, loosening hinges and dissolving adhesions to peer into some of society’s unlighted corners. His best known story, ”Craphound,” tells of a competitive friendship between two junk collectors, one human and one alien; what it says about the uses of the past is no more mysterious than the prices paid for a vintage Coke bottle or an early Barbie doll. Not every attempt to wrest truth from cliche works — but you won’t want to miss Doctorow’s satiric glance at co-opted dissent among the grade-school set or the insidious horror of his updated Pinocchio tale.
New York Times