An amiable but mostly toothless first story collection--ten magazine contributions from the past three years plus one original--from the whimsical, rather mushy and juvenile author of A Planet Called Treason and Songmaster. Best of the bunch: the gleeful and pointed "I Put My Blue Genes On" (colonists returning to Earth find a world devastated by an 800-year-long biological war, but devolved jingoists still keep the banners waving); "Ender's Game" (a well-reasoned yarn about child soldiers training in war games); and "The Porcelain Salamander"--a controlled and comely fable about the lifting of a misapplied curse. Other, less original tales strain for effect: the title story--about a genius who creates haunting music despite heavily contrived ostracism and mutilation--slips into mawkishness; "Kingsmeat" (people-eating bug-eyed monsters) and "Closing the Time-lid" (death as the ultimate orgasm) disgust rather than horrify. And, weakest of all, there are some awfully preachy items involving repentance and lessons from alien races. Again, as in the novels, the impression is one of promising ideas and good intentions undermined by lack of discipline and puerile tendencies--but sf readers inclined toward the cheerfully un-rigorous will find this a reasonably diverting grabbag.