A first collection of nine tales, 199095, all originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction or its predecessor magazine, set against the common near-future backdrop of a hard-driven information society beset by a climatic change that has turned the western US into desert, water being gotten from icebergs towed up from the Antarctic. In the title piece, longest and probably best, a rigidly traditional Chinese industrial boss must be persuaded to accept a daughter as his natural heir, leaving his son to pursue his artistic vocation. Elsewhere, a crippled young boy produces illusions by teleprojection (``Water Bringer''); a young woman determined to escape the barrio chooses ethical pragmatism over the temptation of blackmail and manipulation (``Entrada''); a lonely gene-engineered female centaur meets a musician seeking inspiration (``The Centaur Garden''). ``Second Chance'' concerns an alien trapped in the Antarctic ice; there are fraternal struggles in Mexico, and father-son rivalries at sea in ``Bordertown'' and ``Flood Tide,'' respectively; three young friends in the desert seek their destinies in ``The Rain Stone''; and an amnesiac fears to remember the man he was in ``Stairway.'' Pleasingly crafted work from the author of the paperback The Stone Garden, etc., but with few sharp edges, showing little determination to press ahead into the unknown.
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