A grand collection of seven stories from a British master of science fiction, fantasy, and realism (Carnegie-winning Machine Gunners). Most of these pieces are as different from each other as they are unexpected. In the title story, a vicar's daughter learns to her dismay that all her favorite people, including her parents, have feet of clay, but she tricks a terrifying, Old Testament angel into withholding the Sodom and Gomorrah-like destruction he plans for the town. In other stories: an ancient cairn yields a dreamlike experience of space visitors; with hilarious, black humor, the world's super-computers contrive to maintain the last bits of life after a nuclear holocaust; a would-be poet gets a frightening taste of omniscience when he meddles in the death of a wizard; a selfish old clock dealer tries to suppress his conscience when confronted with a Christmas Eve vision. In the longest story, an artist--transported to an advanced, mercantile-centered planet--finds himself trying to save the beautiful women provided to entice him from loneliness, although he knows they are robots destined for the scrap heap when he returns to earth. Who we are, why we are, how we should strive, what responsibilities we have for one another--these riddles of conscience are beguilingly wrapped in Westall's inventive tales, each grounded in vividly authentic places and people. Entertaining and thought-provoking.