YOU have just gone out and bought that nice new multimedia system: CD-ROM drive, sound card, speakers and all. Now you are ready for the multimedia big-time, you say to yourself. But, a little playing and the questions start flowing through your head: You mean I need special software? I need to know how to build multimedia presentations? I need to understand the difference between WAV files and VOC files? I need to install Microsoft's Video for Windows software? I need MPC 2 compliance? Suddenly that seemingly simple concept of multimedia - sound, video, text and images all together on one computer- seems a bit more complicated. Unfortunately, there is not much quality documentation out there right now to open this vast area of multimedia to the new user. At least Multimedia Mania, a product from Abacus Software, attempts to address this lack of a concise, accessible introduction to the field. Combining a CD-ROM with a collection of demo programs, sample multimedia files and an accompanying book, Multimedia Mania provides a broad and comprehensive introduction to the area. The book starts by defining multimedia and outlining its potential uses. It then moves into the underlying theories and standards, explaining MPC and its role in the industry and discussing the essential technologies in the areas of audio, CD-ROM, image processing and output. A workshop section takes users through buying a multimedia upgrade kit for their PCs and helps them pinpoint what to buy for their needs from basic multimedia viewing uses through to high-end production needs. The book also helps users configure and begin to use their multimedia setup, guides them through sound recording techniques with sound cards and covers image capture and processing as well as animation and electronic music composition using the MIDI standard. Chapters on authoring and multimedia presentations help to set the stage for users who want to move on to producing their own multimedia productions. Next to this comprehensive book is the included CD-ROM. The CD includes a runtime version of Asymetrix's Multimedia ToolBook and demos of HSC Interactive Authoring System from Harvard Systems, Master Tracks Pro from Passport Systems and Slide Show Demo from Voyetra. It also includes sound tools, Paint Shop Pro, Graphics Workshop and a collection of graphics, animation and other demos and samples. While the total collection provides a nice base for the novice multimedia user, unfortunately the use of the CD was not quite as easy as it could have been and it was not always clear what choice should be picked to access a desired application or demo. At times, some applications failed to run and later they would. No clear guidance was given for users facing this quandary. Still, the total package is an admirable effort to cover a vast subject, one filled with mystery for many people. At $279, Multimedia Mania is not expensive, and even with the less than gracefully implemented CD side to the package, the book alone is a useful tool for those wanting to learn the essentials of multimedia. On the side, Multimedia Mania includes a free copy of Abacus' Wicked Windows comes Alive! software, which provides an animated screen saver for Windows and allows the creation of customised, animated screen savers using animation programs such as Autodesk Animator or 3D Studio. Multimedia Mania is available from KPS Video Express.