Nine more or less familiar tales, 1971-80, from the Universe series of original stories: a generally middling-good assortment, with no real standouts or washouts. Robert Silverberg offers a robot pope, ""Good News from the Vatican."" There's a typically batty, erudite piece from R. A. Lafferty about floating islands. Harlan Ellison is represented by an uncharacteristically gentle unicorn yarn, ""On the Downhill Side."" Ursula K. LeGuin writes about quantum paradox and the breakdown of causality; Gene Wolfe describes a brutal three-cornered psychological struggle in ""The Death of Doctor Island""; Edgar Panghorn presents a sensitive post-nuclear tale about a boy cast out because of his homosexuality. Fritz Leiber's torrid sexual fantasy is based on mathematics and idea-association. John Varley's ""Options"" intelligently anticipates a time when changing sex is as easy as changing garments (and foresees beneficial, civilizing effects). And Howard Waldrop contributes his Southern-charm-ing dodo yarn, ""The Ugly Chickens."" Few fireworks--but entertaining, in the low-key Universe style.