Review of THE LAST DROP by L. Sprague de Camp and L. Ron Hubbard
Galaxy Press, April 2010
Ever in search of the perfect cocktail, one that he can name and that can catapult him into eternal fame, bartender Harry McLeod (Mac) thinks he's finally accomplished his mission. With the help of a syrup from Borneo, Mac creates something that actually tastes good. There is, however, the unexpected side-effect. Drinking the cocktail causes the drinker to become either giant or tiny (depending on the acid/base mix). When he accidentally shrinks a mobster, Mac goes on the run. But surviving as a ten-inch figure when full-sized and fully armed mobsters are after him isn't going to be easy.
Authors L. Sprague de Camp and L. Ron Hubbard deliver a sassy 'pulp,' first released in the golden age of pulps (before World War II). It's fun to see the world inhabited by the pulp writers...centering around the neighborhood bar, with drinkers discussing acid/alkaline reactions and the square/cube law, gangsters who must be confronted personally without thought of the police, and cross-town cab rides that can be had for a buck.
THE LAST DROP is a short story from a time when short stories were far more common than novel-length speculative fiction. It's a quick read, but it's enjoyable and a fun reminder of a mostly-forgotten art form.
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