Genometry edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann
One of a series of themed anthologies assembled by Dann and Dozois, this collection brings together ten stories written between 1984 and 1999 plus one tale from 1961. The stories are all related to the theme of directed biological mutations and they cover a range of topics from viruses designed to introduce new genetic material into humans to complete engineered ecosystems.

Each story is introduced by the editors with a capsule biography and reading list for the story's author. Those notes are useful but if you read more than a couple of these collections you will start to see the same introductions cropping up as the editors tend to assemble about two thirds of the content from a group of a dozen or so writers.

For me, the highlight of the book was the last and oldest story, Cordwainer Smith's "A Planet Named Shayol" which had the sort of ghastly desolation in its atmosphere that I normally associate with Harlan Ellison at his best. It tells about a group of criminals sent for eternity to a punishment planet where they are used to grow spare body parts for transplant surgery.

Brian Stableford's "The Pipes of Pan" is another fine story dealing with immortality and the problem of people wanting children in a world where you cannot allow children to grow up because you would then have too many people.

With other tales from the likes of Paul J.McAuley, Frederik Pohl, Greg Egan, John Brunner and Bruce Sterling, you can expect to find a lot of good things to read. I rate this as one of the better books in the series and recommend it to any fan of SF short stories. If you enjoy this book and hard SF stories in general, try to get hold of a copy of Nanotech and after that Space Soldiers and Future War in the same series.

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McAuley, Paul J.: "The Invisible Country"
Set in a future England in which society is disintegrating into lawlessness loosely governed by big cartels and organised crime, this tale tells of a scientist who produces a genetically engineered disease that makes all people feel as though everyone is their brother or sister. The cartels want to eliminate or control it and it is up to one man to manage its spread. 7/10

Pohl, Frederik: "The Kindly Isle"
A man, who quit his job at a military research facility and made a new career as a business analyst for the leisure industry, visits an island idyll. He is surprised to see a former colleague and suspects that this person may have continued his research into personality altering biotech. It turns out that he is right, the Island's plentiful shellfish population does indeed carry a pathogen that makes anyone who eats it kind and friendly. 6/10

Egan, Greg: "Chaff"
A brilliant Biotech researcher vanishes from his government job in the US and heads to a lawless zone in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin. There, unrestricted genetic engineering has transformed the landscape and provided a haven for anything from drugs to advanced pharmaceuticals. One man, the narrator is sent in to the zone to get the scientist back alive. 6/10

Gunn, Eileen: "Stable Strategies for Middle Management"
Pointy haired managers out of Dilbert start getting genetic alterations in order to make them into better company people. 4/10

Brunner, John: "Good With Rice"
A new plant is discovered in the remote West of China. It forms an unexpectedly plentiful supply of fruit that tastes like meat and soon becomes a staple of the local diet. But it also causes cancer in women who have given birth. Where did it come from? This is an interesting, and very well told tale. 7/10

Sterling, Bruce "Sunken Gardens"
Denied access to star travel by an alien race and split into genetically engineered factions, mankind has fragmented. One privileged group organises a competition as part of a terra-forming project on Mars and each contestant gets a chance at seeding life in a crater. 7/10

Dunn, J.R.: "The Other Shore"
A group of scientists sets out to solve the world's population problems by engineering a new plague which kills off most non Caucasians from all over the world. The story follows the case of one man being extradited from the US to India to face justice. Was he guilty? What could have been his motive if he was? 7/10

Lawson, Chris: "Written in Blood"
A Muslim scientist develops a way to encode text in DNA introns. He develops a retrovirus that will incorporate the full text of the Koran into a person's bone marrow DNA so that they carry the words in the white cells of their blood. It was an interesting idea but the story itself was uninteresting. 5/10

Stableford, Brian: "The Pipes of Pan"
Advances in technology allow people to live for ever and even to halt the ageing process. This causes a problem, what to do about children? Everyone wants them but if they all grow up there will be too many people. The solution is to breed children who grow to a predetermined age and then stop growing. They minds also stop growing and learning once they reach the set age. It's a perfect solution but one day, all the children start to grow again. 8/10

Reed Robert "Whiptail"
In the distant future, humans have given up sexual reproduction and the planet is populated by families of identical females and nobody even remembers a time when there were men until one day, a scientist discovers a species of lizard which still exists in male and female form. 6/10

Smith, Cordwainer: "A Planet Named Shayol"
The planet Shayol is inhabited by strange creatures that induce humans to grow extra body parts which can then be used for transplant surgery. As a punishment, criminals are sent there to spend eternity growing new bits for other folks. This was as good as Ellison at his best and that's praise. 9/10