Nine stories, old and new, plus an article on computer graphics that never saw print: Bear's first collection since his brilliant 1983 The Wind from a Burning Woman. As with much of his previous work, Bear here displays a broad, deep imagination, along with an almost willful lack of control and direction. "Blood Music" (later overexpanded into a novel), about organic microcomputers that infect their invent or's cells, lapses into talky improbabilities. "Tangents," an angry parable about an Alan Turing-like mathematician, introduces other dimensions, both literal and figurative, and is probably the most impressive entry here. A rewritten older piece, "A Martian Ricorso," very plausibly describes a catastrophe-driven Martian ecology. Elsewhere, the flaws tend to loom larger than the inventiveness. "Sleepside Story," a coming-of age yarn, never employs its eerie, intriguing backdrop to any purpose. The life-after-death yarn, "Dead Run," meanders at length. An attempt to demonstrate, in fictional terms, a principle of atomic physics fails to convince. And some near-future gene-tailoring comes unstuck, in so-so fashion. Hints, plus several longer passages, show what Bear is truly capable of; but, by and large, the impression is of a major talent slowly but surely wasting away.