Fourteen all-new stories concerning first contact with Other Intelligences, and, with few exceptions, a pretty shallow and YA-ish lot. The one real standout here is Jeff Duntenmann's original and vivid ""Marlowe"": he's an intelligence composed of mutated antenatal brain tissue created by unfeeling scientists to probe the secrets of space-time; the instigators then force Maria, an ill-used street urchin with extraordinary, uncritical powers of observation, to computer-link with Marlowe and report his discoveries. Other, about-average offerings are Mark J. McGarry's look at a high-gravity, dense-atmosphere planet where the natives communicate via infrasound; Jayge Carr's survey team, puzzled by aliens showing extreme sexual dimorphism; and George Florance Guthridge's banal but well-realized zen healer who finds his cure worse than the disease. Plus: some awfully limp jokes--Ian Watson's ""The Ultimate One-Word First-Contact Story"" (""OUCH!""), a warning to beware of aliens bearing gifts, an entirely obvious ""lost in translation"" piece, alien picnickers, disembodied Martians--and tired retreads about war, sentient computers, and sorcerers. Apart from the Duntenmann gem, then, a derivative and often vapid assortment.