Keystone Chronicles, edited by Juliana Rew is an anthology about subtly important things: turning points on which pivot the histories of species, planetary satellites that have been turned into expensive liabilities and reimagined cynical fantasy alternatives.
The idea of the keystone, as a theme for an anthology, sounds vague enough for it to be a risky thing to tackle. When I picked up this anthology in the first place, I could only come up with a quite literal interpretation of the theme. Thankfully, Third FlatIron’s choices did their best to prove me wrong.
From occult bee-related disturbances to journals by extraterrestrial Contact officials, Keystone Chronicles does a great job of providing a fascinating variety, more than any of the other anthologies the publisher has put out so far. Warzel’s “You Cannot Have a Meaningful Campaign…” reads like a ‘who’s up next’ repurposed for a hard science fiction universe, Bowden’s “Splinters” is a pitch-black humorous approach to the tale of Prometheus and King’s “To Their Wandering Eyes” has that unique, Stantislave Lem-like quality you just won’t find in newer science fiction.
“Grins and Gurgles” a flash-fiction section of the anthology, features some great work of flash science fiction, but unfortunately, its first two stories tend to lean more to an esoteric, author-y type of humor that only writers will get. That’s not to say Sherridan’s “Saint Urho” wasn’t a joy tor read through.
With these things in mind, I believe that the publisher would do well to start considering longer-length anthologies. Set at 107 pages, Keystone is a collection that could very well introduce you to the light but filling style of the publisher, but its length will probably leave you wishing for more.