A first collection of nine tales, 1990-95, 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.