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Astronomical Odds (Third Flatiron Anthologies) (Volume 3) Paperback – March 8, 2014
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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Juliana Rew, publisher and chief editor, picks a topic and invites authors to give their take on it. Story length on the pieces is rarely over 3,000 words, which gives a great variety of writing styles and ideas without feeling bloated. You can almost always expect an author returning from an earlier Flatiron work in addition to the new authors that Ms. Rew gives the opportunity to write for her. In short, a lot of work goes into each volume, and the quality is very, very high for things with the Flatiron stamp.
As for the stories themselves, there were a few in this collection that knocked off the fifth star. This is something not unique here, as it isn't uncommon for the stories I consider duds to be well received by others. Such is the nature of anthologies, and while I won't list any of the stories I didn't care for, there are a few that I want to point out as being my favorites in this volume:
Ken Altabef opens this anthology up with a very cool story about a boy with a calculator-like mind who is not exactly what he seems. The twist at the end of "In the Blood" is very interesting, and would be a cool idea to see expanded upon in other shorts.
Martin Clark, who was also featured in the Mars anthology, returns to Third Flatiron with "Casualties" about a space pilot on what may be his last mission yet. The tagline under the title: "Fortunate is the man who can foretell both the time and place of his death" is a really nice touch that does a great job foreshadowing the story.
Ian Ishbel's "Good Odds for Murder" is a noir story with a bit of William Gibson's "Neuromancer" mixed in for flavor that blends the two genres in a way I really liked, with a detective who crunches numbers to determine the probability of a crime.
"Lost in the Mail" by Benjamin Smith takes the reader to a bureaucratic world populated by elves and the like whose dependence on the mail makes a fun read, taking an everyday occurrence and giving it a fun and magical twist.
Finally, Susan Nance Carhart's "Birth Lottery" offers a peak at a potential future not too much unlike the one we may have, with parents going in to ensure that their designer baby gets all the necessary treatment it will need in the world it will come to inherit.
All in all, a fun book with a lot of very different ideas connected firmly by theme. If you haven't picked up a TF anthology yet, chances are "Astronomical Odds" would be one of the best ones to start with.