A substantial collection of 34 tales, many previously uncollected, from the renowned author of, most recently, There Are Doors (1988), ranging from horror and fantasy to speculative and hard science fiction. Wolfe's style, while sometimes rococo and discursive, is frequently rich, authoritative, and compelling, as displayed in the best stories here: "Silhouette," a tense, knotty puzzler involving mysterious, insubstantial aliens and a space mutiny; "The Other Dead Man," in which survivors of a space accident struggle to overcome their bizarre predicament--and each other; "Procreation," a series wherein a physicist creates submicroscopic worlds; another series of three tales exploring genetic engineering from a mythological point of view; a gripping exploration of a science fictional Hell; and yet another series about the travels and travails of artificially liberated souls. Also on the agenda: murderous offspring; robots; megalomaniacs; nereids; childhood terrors; gods and men; a couple of intriguing Victorian pastiches; two stories set in the world of the New Sun novels; and more. Especially in the best stories, a satisfying depth and complexity is apparent, with character development above and beyond the short-story norm, ideas carefully and completely worked out, and a psychological conviction few others can match. On the debit side--particularly for readers who aren't content just to be impressed, but consider what they read--Wolfe can be exasperating: he's uninterested in explanations; he always knows things that you don't; and sometimes his details, fascinating though they may be, don't quite add up.