Crowley (Little, Big) constructs a disappointingly simplistic narrative in this weak novelette. Science fiction author Meg and stay-at-home dad John have a handicapped daughter, Lily, who cavorts on her crutches in a few charming episodes. When a snowstorm keeps Meg at a meeting with her agent, John teaches Lily and her older brother to make valentines, and this domestic action is contrasted with chapters from Meg's new novel, a trite and didactic tale of a planet of furry aliens to whom a hairless child is born. The message of both sections of the novelette is that handicapped children are special in their own ways, but little emotional impact is added to what is at best an exhausted morality play, and the SF sections make 1920s pulp look deep and subtle. A certain trademark elegance shines through, but the tale itself is oddly empty of action or fully realized characters. This is a startlingly flaccid showing from such an august source. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.