Though Zoline has long been associated with the British-inspired New Wave, primarily because of the title story, her work isn't so much science fiction as mainstream experimental: all of a sudden, drama, insight, and wit leap forth from a deceptively chaotic surge of ideas, images, and scenes. Most famous is the tour de force of the title piece: a housewife's tragicomic descent into madness is likened to--indeed, in a sense, becomes--the slow unravelling of the universe into hopeless random energy, the ""heat death."" In similar, but somewhat less exalted fashion, the Dutch people's centuries-long battle to hold back the sea parallels a visiting American couple's struggle to prevent their marriage from disintegrating. Elsewhere, a sinister secret society of women kidnaps children, transforms them physically and mentally, and then places them in foster homes around the globe. Why? Could you press the nuclear button, knowing that your children were living somewhere on the enemy side? Also: scientists isolate and observe a color-blind orphan boy, Gabriel: his forebears, you see, have shown a remarkable propensity for dying unlikely deaths, victims of fires, floods, crashes, earthquakes, sinking ships, hurricanes, and what-have-you. Only the longest story, ""Sheep""--a sort of ""everything you always wanted to know about sheep,"" plus a dozen related subjects--fails to cohere. Weird, challenging, distinctive, jolting: a polymathic product of fine writing, mordant commentary, and subtle thinking.