Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Keystone Chronicles - Editor's Note

-->           We're always amazed at how our authors take the theme we offer as a writing prompt and run with it. Third Flatiron received some unusually good writing for the Fall/Winter issue, and that's saying a lot. Below is the Editor's Note for the issue:

The prompt: We noted that a keystone is a central stone at the summit of an arch locking the whole together. It's something on which other things depend for support, the heart or core of something, the crux, or central principle. Welcome to Keystone Chronicles. This anthology features 19 stories, nearly a double issue, for this fall/winter. It's probably the most eclectic spec fic collection we've ever produced, even featuring a healthy dose of geological science.
Bursting out of the gate first is our lead story, "Our Problem Child: Langerfeld the Moon," by Marilyn K. Martin, who makes us appreciate how much we would miss that shiny silver disk in the sky if something ill were to befall it.
The idea of keystone species has become important as humans try to understand and preserve the natural environment. The Juno mission to Jupiter is giving us a closer glimpse of our solar system's gas giant. In "Hunt, Unrelenting," Sierra July writes an exciting, surrealistic story about what the keystone species of that planet might be.
Back on Earth, bees are a recognized keystone species, of course. But in the hands of author Judith Field, we're treated to an especially entertaining tale when magicians Pat and Mark form an alliance with our fuzzy friends to battle the UK version of Bigfoot.
Edward Palumbo channels Fredric Brown in his speculative story, "Desol 8," about an intergalactic travel reporter touring a new resort. We find we're not sure how we feel when that planet's key features are revealed.
Sometimes it's a matter of wanting something badly enough. But things get weird when slipstream/horror master A. P. Sessler's young lovers wish they'll never reach the end of "The White Picket Fence." Then it's a matter of perspective. Another excellently told tale, "Coding Haven" by Brandon Crilly, is the story of a coder who is key to saving the planet via virtual reality, but is not sure she can save herself.
Beware the end of the world? That old saw about there being a kook in every subway car gets a workout when expanded to an interstellar setting. John Marr really puts it out there in "Every Planet Has One." Bascomb James offers his ironic tale, "TANSTAAFL." Fans of Robert Heinlein might recognize the acronym, which stands for "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
We love time travel stories but can't abide anachronisms. Neither can Desmond Warzel, who pokes holes in the fun in "You Can Not Have a Meaningful Campaign If Strict Time Records Are Not Kept."
Space opera and movie lovers are sure to find something to their liking in John M. Campbell's thriller, "Keystone Mine," set in the Asteroid Belt.
Three authors give differing theories about how human civilization may have been given a boost by outside forces. UK writer Maureen Bowden shows how the Three Fates might have played a key role in raising up primitive humans in her tale, "Splinters." But others may beg to differ, as in Argentinian writer Gustavo Bondoni's fairy tale, "Racial Memory." And Bear Kosik's "See You on Hel," follows an overworked, underfunded uranologist who discovers extragalactic creatures have been helping humanity for millennia.
"To Their Wondering Eyes" by Sharon Diane King gives us a shot of steampunk fantasy, as stereographs spring to life and turn things inside out.
We always enjoy switching things up by adding a bit of mythology and spirituality to the mix. In "How Far Away the Stars," Sri Lankan writer Sam Muller introduces us to a young knight determined to kill a dragon as the key to his reputation. (The dragon offers an alternative.) And Zerrin Ogtur presents us with a lovely parable of people gradually discovering their prophet to be the key to their uplift.
We close as usual with our "Grins and Gurgles" section, with flash humor pieces by Larry Lefkowitz ("Rejection"), Art Lasky ("I Should've Known Better"), and Damian Sheridan ("Remembrance of Saint Urho"). I'm still chuckling.
We hope you'll enjoy these chronicles, told by an international group of master storytellers.

Note: Third Flatiron will open for submissions soon for its 2017 lineup. Watch us at

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