This volume of THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLEN POE contains examples of his frantic and (to 21st century readers at least) forced humor, but also such unusual items as 'Mellonia Tauta,' a satirical science fiction story set in the year 2848 aboard an airship, and 'The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,' in which two spirits, in the afterlife, recall how the Earth was destroyed by a comet which drew all the nitrogen out of the atmosphere, leaving the remaining oxygen to start a world consuming fire. An odd notion? Spiritual prologue aside, is this a predecessor of the 'hard science' sort of science fiction which has flourished since the 1940s? 'The Colloquy of Monas and Una' can be read as a sequel, a vision of a further future and of a new Earth which has emerged since the holocaust. There are classic supernatural stories present, too. 'Metzengerstein' is a horror story of murder, supernatural revenge, and a prophetic curse. . . . The thing to remember about Poe is that he is a sufficiently important figure in the history of literature that it is worthwhile to read his entire output. No one really cares about the whole body of the work of, say, W.W. Jacobs, the author of 'The Monkey's Paw': mostly humorous sea stories, some of them topical, of little interest today. But Poe is different. He is more than just the author of 'The Raven' and 'The Masque of the Red Death.' That is why he fills five volumes.