This British annual, now in its third decade, continues to uphold the short story (as does The New Yorker where three of these ten stories first appeared) while editor Maclean in his brief introductory note, affirms the importance of our most nonnegotiable form with far greater justification than James Michener did recently. Among the established writers: Muriel Spark with a catchy bauble about ""The First Year of My Life""; sports writer Brian Glanville with an account of a footballer forcibly playing the game for his father; a subtle Shirley Hazzard, ""Sir Cecil's Ride,"" surfacing from and distancing beyond an island in the Far East; Celia Dale's disruptive tour of Greece which severs a functional friendly arrangement; and finally Rebecca West's superb ""Parthenope"" which flirts with the forces of darkness via the seven classically named, motherless daughters of an admiral who were ""bundled. . . into matrimony"" at the first possible moment, to be salvaged by Parthenope who towers classically above the others. Among the lesser known contributors: G. F. Green; Peter Luke; G. S. Sharat; Philip Glazebrook, with an affecting story of an orphan who achieves survival ""by throwing to the wolves everything but herself""; and from Jeremy Brooks, ""A Value"" which is peculiarly assessed in terms of the past and the future while the present is nudged on its way to self-destruct by a man carrying a bomb. . . . It's been a fine year--and this collection reminds us that distinction and entertainment can be effortlessly achieved at one and the same time.