This richly rewarding collection by the author of Death Qualified (1991), etc., easily transcends its science-fiction classification--focusing less on the vagaries of time and space than on the imaginations of characters struggling to come to terms with their fate. ``I know of no other writer who conveys so successfully the twin truths of our lives--that the world is at once so much better and so much worse than we imagine it to be,'' writes Karen Joy Fowler (Sarah Canary, 1991) in her foreword here. Wilhelm's refreshingly free use of fantasy to evoke her characters' emotional realities conveys, as well, a rich range and variety of truths between the extremes. In ``The Look Alike,'' a woman's grief over her stillborn child leads her to believe that a double has taken over her destiny; in the Nebula-winning ``Forever Yours, Anna,'' a divorced graphologist falls in love with a woman through her handwriting, only to realize, after an exhaustive search, that the woman exists only in the future; and in the title story, a small- town journalist becomes so captivated by an alien creature he discovers by the side of the road that he fails to realize that the creature does not love him in return. Double identities and time travel figure frequently in the fantasies of Wilhelm's brooding, solitary characters, yet instead of distracting from the quiet desperation at the bottom of their lives, this subjective rendering brings readers to a deeper, more moving and memorable, psychological truth. An aptly titled and unusually successful departure from traditional storytelling--these tales, all but one of which were first published in Redbook, Omni, and other magazines, may serve to expand Wilhelm's readership.