Paperback: 68 pages
Publisher: Pipers' Ash Ltd (31 Dec 1999)
This is early Asher: a set of five short stories set in his Polity universe. As the page count indicates, it's slim, a mere chapbook, and when a book gets this slim, one starts (perhaps unfairly) calculating how much it is per page, and whether it's worth that.
I have to answer, no, not really. One of his novels gives you ten times as much per penny. If the writing was stunning, then an argument might be made, but this is early Asher, and he has (happily) improved since. There is interest in seeing a desperate episode from the war against the Prador (the war itself is over by the time the novels start), and Cormac's first encounter with Dragon. We also meet Horace Blegg in a rather unsatisfactory tale. Perhaps the best in my mind is Blue Holes and Bloody Waters (or just Blue Holes as it's listed in the contents page), which manages a small scale story about hate and jealousy concealed beneath affability.
But as a whole, it's not full of memorable stories, and is probably only for the Asher completist.