Seventeen fairly recent stories from the scriptwriter, essayist, lecturer, New Wave guru, movie critic, and prodder of complacent psyches. The introductory theme, EIlison's rage at the death of friends, runs through many of the entries here; in some the approach is frankly personal. Thus, death, suffering, and transformation figure heavily. A dying old man, the guardian of time's missing hour (when the hour finally expires, the world ends), passes it on to a worthy younger keeper. An ordinary man endures a series of fantastic mental lives, involving aliens and what-have-you, in the process of becoming God. Elsewhere, a different God wanders bewildered through his creation, now run out of his control. There are also: a telepathic rapist who gets his comeuppance; Prometheus (cf. J.G. Ballard's ""The Drowned Giant""); resurrection; vampires (sort of); the removal of painful unwanted memories; the lost wisdom of Atlantis; suffering artists; a man who kills Grim Reapers; a chain of probability worlds; time travellers (benevolent and otherwise); street people. . .and finally, in ""The Function of Dream Sleep,"" Ellison aptly dramatizing his own emotional catharsis. A collection neither easy to characterize--lumpy? jagged? wrought?--nor particularly likable. But, then, that has never been Ellison's purpose. Unsettling, to be sure.