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Gordon Dickson, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, presents SF fans with a new adventure in which dwarfish lords and ladies who ride humans like horses plot the downfall of mankind. The Earth Lords (New York: Ace Books, 311 pp., $3.95 paper) is a gripping tale of man's struggle for freedom.

A different sort of intrigue emerges in Sovietologist Robert Conquest's indepth look at the assassination in 1934 of Sergei Kirov, heir-apparent to Stalin, in Stalin and the Kirov Murder (New York: Oxford University Press, 164 pp., $16.95). Conquest gives a chilling account of the assassination, which was never adequately investigated or explained, and establishes that Stalin himself sanctioned the murder that was later used to justify his reign of terror that peaked in 1937 and '38.

Frustrated with the mail service offered by the U.S. Postal Service? Douglas Adie's Monopoly Mail: Privatizing the U.S. Postal Service (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 197 pp., $34.95/$19.95) offers a refreshing proposal to eliminate USPS monopoly privileges and taxpayer subsidies. Adie blames the failures of the USPS—an inability to innovate, soaring labor costs, huge deficits, chronic inefficiency, and declining service—on its monopoly status and shows how competition will improve service for all consumers.

In another pathbreaking policy study, economist George Selgin investigates the workings and implications of an entirely unregulated banking system. Selgin challenges the widely accepted view that central banking is necessary for a stable monetary system in The Theory of Free Banking (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, and Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 218 pp., $33.50).