This anthology of original science-fiction stories begins gloriously with a poem by Marilyn Hacker suggesting that maybe someday a representative bunch of women will look like a representative bunch of people. Thereafter things rapidly go downhill. Cynthia Felice constructs a flimsy diagram about a woman gelling beyond the familiar trap of placation and approval-seeking to make an independent decision about her life. Elizabeth A. Lynn gives us four free women --a fictional species reminiscent of kibbutz residents on travel posters--assisting at a birthing in male-chauvinist-Gothic territory. Cherry Wilder's ""Mab Gallen Recalled"" (veteran space-medic Mab remembers an encounter with a woman priest) is a pleasant but vague sketch of an intention. Though not brilliantly plotted or executed, Diana L. Paxson's ""The Song of N'Sardi-El"" is nearly the only story in which a science-fiction idea--a confrontation between a race of five-sexed aliens and a shipload of humans living in extended families--is developed with any sense of engagement. ""Phoenix in the Ashes,"" by Joan D. Vinge, is a novelette-length love story involving amnesia, a withered-on-the-vine Cinderella, and one of those after-the-Holocaust authoritarian theocracies that are getting to be a worse sci-fi clichÃ‰ than bug-eyed monsters. ""The Eye of the Heron,"" a short novel by Ursula K. LeGuin, is set on a planet peopled by two separate groups of Terran undesirables: transported criminals and exiled pacifists; their heirs have reached the moment of showdown about future courses of development. With its overkill of earnest understatement, it is nearly a parody of this writer's best work. Today it is almost a truism that women are doing some of the most innovative work in science fiction; but one would hardly guess it from this pallid collection.