The author of such reliably offbeat sf thrillers as Strange Attractors (1990) radically changes pace for ten hilarious, semi- autobiographical stories. With affection and a splendid sense of comic timing, Sleator drags forth incidents from his family closet's darkest recesses--the time young Tycho was hypnotized and then made to drink from the toilet; an indignant skit that laid bare the failings of certain parents, to their vast amusement; rough-and-tumble car games; and deliciously horrifying pranks played on unsuspecting passersby. Vivid characterizations (sister Vicky had always enjoyed making dolls fight with each other; when the dolls wore out, she ripped off their arms and legs. Now she is a nurse'') always balance foibles with saving graces; embarrassment is eased by laughter, while painful circumstances always come right in the end. Sleator shows how, in a loosely run household presided over by indulgent working parents, he and his three siblings developed confident, independent spirits. Though he admits to making up a few things, his dedication is telling To my family: Please forgive me '' Kirkus Reviews "