In thirteen new stories, Ben Marcus, a School of the Arts writing professor, offers a dystopian vision of alienation in the modern world. Delving into sex, death, shame and the indignities of the body, he draws a bizarre but recognizable universe. In “The Grow-Light Blues,” a corporate drone finds love after being disfigured testing his employer’s newest nutrition supplement—the enhanced glow from his computer monitor. A father finds himself outcast from his family when he starts to suspect that his son’s precocity has turned sinister in “Cold Little Bird.” In “Blueprints for St. Louis,” two architects consider the ethics of artificially inciting emotion in mourners at their latest assignment—a memorial to a terrorist attack. It is a collection that showcases Marcus’ compassion, tenderness and humor.