Although I don't generally like to read short stories (the longer and more complex the story the better, I say), because I enjoy Asher's novels so much, I gave The Engineer a chance. I enjoyed each of the stories, even though they simply left me wanting more. It was particularly interesting to see characters from a few of his novels (Erlin, for example) before they figured in those novels. Some of the stories are set in the Polity universe, but, with the exception of the novella "The Engineer," the AI minds of the Polity play no role in those stories. Most of the stories take place in backwater or primitive worlds which have lost touch with the technology that brought the inhabitants to those worlds in the first place.
My one complaint is that the book is very poorly edited - many typos and even missing words, which surprised me since most of the stories were published earlier. Even the page numbers in the table of contents was screwed up.
But, still, if you enjoy Asher's novels, you will be sure to enjoy these stories. And, unlike the first reviewer, I liked the very short blurbs prefacing each story. It is interesting to get a sense of the person "behind" the author.