A huge but largely unimpressive compendium of 42 stories (some reprints, some originals), featuring writers who have come to fame in the past 20 years or so. The best of the bunch: Ian Watson's offbeat yarn of an afterlife fragmented in time; Michael Swanwick's time traveler, obsessed with killing rock stars; George Alec Effinger's amusing piece about an immense planetary amusement park; Christopher Priest's eerie tale of people frozen in time like insubstantial photographs, Michael Moorcock's gritty, vivid depiction of a nuclear war in southeast Asia; and James Tiptree, Jr.'s despairing, tragicomic non-fiction piece about a hospital in Yucatan. The remainder show a wide variety of themes and treatments: a fake resurrected John Lennon, floating islands, feminist paranoia, an absolute test for sanity, theology (God, devils, angels), a pregnant man, computerized schooling, murder by illusion, spaceship gore, a machine plague, even some defiantly unrepentant Eichmann clones. There are also literary jokes and parodies (of Gemsback, Dick, Ballard). But, throughout, the emphasis is on inscrutable cleverness and intellectual games rather than substance--resulting, despite some bright spots, in a flashy but rather shallow anthology: great on quantity, only so-so on quality, especially when compared to the new Nebula Awards collection (below).