First of a new series of original anthologies, with the next volume to appear in 1998. The 12 agreeably eclectic stories here range from humorous to deadly serious, and from historical fantasy to far-future hard science fiction. In ""Erase/Record/Play,"" John M. Ford unravels, to stunning effect, a particularly nasty experiment in mind control and slavery, framed by A Midsummer Night's Dream. The rediscovery of a lost space colony is the subject of Maureen F. McHugh's probing yarn, ""The Cost To Be Wise."" Seventeenth-century Dutch glass technology--microscopes, telescopes--and spies form Gregory Feeley's splendid drama, ""The Weighing of Ayre."" In ""Waking Beauty,"" Martha Soukup wonders whether people might not simply be waking dreamers, susceptible to changes in the underlying reality patterns. And in Robert Reed's ""Killing the Morrow,"" supermen from the future attempt to change the past to their own advantage. Also on the agenda, though in less exalted style: zombies, Emily Dickinson, Josef Mengele and quantum theory, miracle cures, weird water, magicians, and angels. Well-crafted work with broad appeal, but less groundbreaking than the editor evidently hoped--and pricey: Canny readers will wait for the various annual ""best of's, which will certainly pick up the outstanding entries here.