"A Harvest of Hoodwinks" is a collection of short short stories by Robert Lory, published in 1970. It was one half of an Ace Double, with the other half, also written by Lory, being "Masters of the Lamp".

Almost all Ace Doubles consisted of two short novels bound back to back. In a few cases, however, one side was a short story anthology. And in this case, it was a short short story anthology--- thirteen stories in 110 pages, the longest being 10 pages, the shortest 5 pages. Each story has a short introduction, as well. The stories are bound together, supposedly, by the concepts of scams or frauds---thus the title. Six of them were published previously. In one, for example, an alien spy kills an astrologer who is onto their secret. In another, a planet of dragons has their religion upended by a crashed human ship. And in another bizarre story, a pumpkin shaped boy is turned into a helium balloon before his sophistries can destroy the world. Not all of the stories seem to relate that much to the central concept, but they all have a certain cynical air to them, which somewhat clashes with the general idealism that was present in most Ace Doubles. Also, unlike most Ace Doubles, the villains in most of these stories are aliens. Since the stories are brief, they are built around short gimmicks and tomato surprises, not the more introspective social commentary that was more common in even "pulp" science-fiction at the time.

I have read many Ace Doubles, and their quality ranged from pulp to transcendent. This book took the brevity of the format a step further, by throwing in a dozen different stories, and putting a concept around them. While I can't say it was a great success, it was some interesting reading. And, ironically, the final result ties into the theme-- I did feel just a little conned or flim-flammed when I found out my "novel" was just a padded-out short story collection!

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