This collection by Lucius Shepard, one of the most exciting new writers to emerge in the 1980s, includes the eponymous story Barnacle Bill the Spacer, about an attempted mutiny on a space station, which won the Hugo Award, as well as Sports in America, about a man who finds out just how far he is willing to go when he is hired by a local crime boss to kill a man. In All the Perfumes of Araby a small-time smuggler is granted a vision of the future that compels him to change his life, while Human History is a post-apocalyptic adventure story with a hint of decadence. The Sun Spider is a romance of sorts, with a decidedly gothic twist, while in Beast of the Heartland, a boxer at the end of his career is lured back into the ring with the promise of one last big payoff. And anyone who has ever completely lost themselves in a piece of music will recognise the inspiration for A Little Night Music. Shepard's stories are not just wonderfully three-dimensional characters dealing with life-changing events; they are filled with colours, textures, sounds and smells, as he describes his backgrounds with as much care as a master painter.