Nine tales, 1985-89, from the leading cyberpunker and novelist (the splendid Voice of the Whirlwind, the disappointing Angel Station, 1989). As you might expect, cyberpunk variations form the majority of the entries: a ruthless, amoral computer-gang member on the make gets his comeuppance; an ethical assassin, double-crossed by her corporate employers, emerges victorious despite all odds; a handful of dissidents plan a revolt against the Artificial Intelligences that now rule the world; a witty, tragicomic yarn examines new methods of evaluating designer drugs; and the agents of a pop star who's lost his money-making touch scheme to regain control of him--or his estate. Also on the agenda: a yarn from the Wild Cards shared-world series. Plus, more substantially: a brilliant alien-contact novella, ""Surfacing,"" involving whales, deep-sea aliens, a human loner, and a girl who's sold her soul to a cruel, rapacious alien; a fine alternate-world variation featuring Edgar Allan Poe as a long-suffering Confederate general; and another splendid, far-future alien-contact yarn where the aliens are recognizably human, while the humans have evolved into uncaring automata who explore the universe according to urges they no longer trouble to understand. Despite his manifest cyberpunk leanings, Williams has an imagination all his own--along with a supple, subtle technique and a polished, lucid prose style. Both enjoyable and impressive.