Decision Points – edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt – anthology review

"Decision Points" edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
“Decision Points” edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
Decision Points has been working its way to the top of my “to be read” pile since it came out in April. I just reviewed another anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt last week, and two others prior to that. Every time, Schmidt does an excellent job picking out strong stories by great authors. I have enjoyed every anthology he’s edited, and this one is no different.

Three or four of the stories usually rise to the top as the best of those in the anthology. In this case, there were ten of them that I thought were great. Here, I will give a quick review of my absolute favorites, and then point out what I liked about each of the other top stories.

I have never read a story by Nnedi Okorafor before now, but “Sankofa” made me regret that (and I will be correcting that, too). I loved the vivid imagery she used in describing Sankofa and her job. I loved the descriptions of the reactions of those Sankofa met. I was hooked within two paragraphs. This story tied with three other stories for my favorites in Decision Points: “Aftermaths”, “Postcards”, and “The Milky Way Dance Hall”.

“Aftermaths”, by Lois McMaster Bujold, is set in the Vorkosigan Saga universe. It has none of the main characters, but the two it has are excellent. I loved how the younger officer is gently (no, really!) taught an important lesson in respecting everyone, even the dead. This is one of my favorite stories in that series.

Most of us have experienced the loneliness of moving to a new location (especially when young), and learning how to make friends. In “Postcards”, Rebecca Moesta tells the story of Allie, a girl who makes an unexpected friend in an unexpected way after her family moves due to her father’s new job. I found it touching on multiple levels.

Lou Antonelli is another author I have never read before now, and another one I will be specifically seeking out in the future. “The Milky Way Dance Hall” takes the reader back to the 1950s, with fast cars and night dances in the countryside. A rash decision has interesting consequences that come back to the main character decades later, but not how you expect.

The other stories in Decision Points which made my “great stories” list include “The Prince of Artemis V” by Jennifer Brozek (sacrifice for family), “Driving a Bargain” by Robert J. Sawyer (courage to face the consequences, done with a twist), “The Boy Who Yelled ‘Dragon'” by Mike Resnick (a really fun tale about a boy and a dragon), “Newts” by Kevin J. Anderson (unintended consequences), “Shade” by Steven Gould (set in the Jump universe, all about service—just to be nice), and “Granted” by Jody Lynn Nye (selflessness).

The only real hiccup in the collection was part of the story in “Blood and Water” by Kate Corcino. The story itself was quite interesting, and I found myself looking forward to what was coming next. However, one brief scene (almost one page) had more sexual content than some may feel is good for the young adult demographic. Parts of the scene were fairly graphic, so if this bothers you, be aware this is there.

Outside of that, I found this to be an excellent anthology. I really, really liked almost every story in Decision Points. The rest I still liked, even if not as much as the ones I mentioned above. This is a very solid anthology, and I strongly recommend it.

Contents:
   “Sisters” by Jonathan Maberry
   “Sankofa” by Nnedi Okorafor
   “The Prince of Artemis V” by Jennifer Brozek
   “Aftermaths” by Lois McMaster Bujold
   “Driving a Bargain” by Robert J. Sawyer
   “My Father’s Eyes” by E. C. Myers
   “Like a Thief in the Light” by Alethea Kontis
   “Clockwork Fagin” by Cory Doctorow
   “Postcards” by Rebecca Moesta
   “The Outbreeders” by Robert Silverberg
   “Rivalry on the Sky Course” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
   “An Echo in the Shell” by Beth L. Cato
   “The Milky Way Dance Hall” by Lou Antonelli
   “Blood and Water” by Kate Corcino
   “The Boy Who Yelled ‘Dragon'” by Mike Resnick
   “Newts” by Kevin J. Anderson
   “Babydoll” by K. D. McEntire
   “Shade” by Steven Gould
   “Granted” by Jody Lynn Nye
   “The War of Gifts” by Orson Scott Card

Release Date: April 28, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 1614754241 (9781614754244)
Publisher: WordFire Press
Language: English

MySF Rating: Four point five stars
Family Friendliness: 80%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (minor)
Language: 1 (occasional, mostly minor, deity)
Sexuality: 2 (one almost graphic sex scene, some innuendo)
Violence: 3 (some brutal violence, fights, murder, death)

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