John Varley is a writer that really excels in the short story format in my opinion. He also won most of his award for short stories. This collection is packed with 18 stories - all accompanied with a lengthy introduction by Varley.

Reading this collection definitely gives the impression that Varley lived through the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll era. Lots of stories deal with experiments with sex and drugs in some form at least. It is especially apparent in the various Eight World stories where biological gender swap is widely available. In The Phantom of Kansas the protagonist ends up having sex with a gender-swapped clone of herself, and in Options a married couple has to deal with how their relationship changes when both are biological male.

There is also stories like The Persistence of Vision where Varley becomes almost philosophical, where a man wandering a somewhat devestated USA comes accross a community of deafblind people who has developed a unique way of communication through touch. In Press Enter we get a lovely 80s cyberpunk-ish murder mystery story with overpowered hackers and a clever notion whether a computer program could be used in court as evidence for a personal signature. In The Barbie Murders we also get a clever murder mystery, with the added complication that victim belongs to a cult of identical “Barbies” without individuality, making it impossible to frame an individual killer.

There are hardly any bad stories in this collection and the various anecdotal stories Varley tells as introductions to each story, is also worth the time.