With this first collection of twenty short stories, Emshwiller has reached beyond her grasp as a former writer of science fiction. Her new ""serious"" writing has plenty of upfront, zingy, surface appeal of the popular genre, as in her account of the travels of the oldest son of J. S. Bach (the one who cut up his father's manuscripts and sold the signatures) through the Howard Johnson-infested regions of upper New York State on his way to Canada to dodge the draft; but that, we may construe from her frequent meditations on the art-life dichotomy, is not what she's after. ""Art comes from deep within hidden recesses like vulvas,"" Emshwiller claims, and as such, seems to be an onanistic pastime for the restless hausfraus of her stories (""Art keeps me busy. Art keeps me happy at home [sort of] alone. . .""). She tends to simper over her ideal of marital bliss -- thanks filmmaker husband Ed for his penis, later in ""The Childhood of the Human Hero"" reminds him that ""ours is indeed an admirable boy."" ""Lib"" has the allegorical heroine of the title debauching her way up the stairs with a fat slob picked up in a bar while ""the child is waiting, listening to them come."" Lib, like her sisters in many of the other stories, is ""guilty of being unloved."" But anyone whose first thought after a kick in the crotch is that ""women don't hurt there as much as men do,"" deserves everything she gets. If the New Woman defined by this ""feminine"" writing only wants a man with leadership qualities and a six foot four son, then let her bake bread and leave the art to the big boys.