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edited by Jonathan Strahan

Night Shade (2009)

ISBN: 978-1-59780-162-1

Reviewed by Simon Petrie, May 2010

Though they share the same brief – to present an overview of some of the year’s best short speculative fiction, in an anthology without stated limitations of theme – Eclipse Three is a distinctly different beast than Eclipse Two. Probably the most obvious point of variance is in the gender distribution of the authors, with a definite preponderance of female authors in E3, whereas E2 was distinctly male-heavy. It’s difficult to see this as other than a conscious choice by Strahan to redress previous gender imbalances, but if so the strategy receives no acknowledgement in the anthology’s introduction or elsewhere. Nor is it, in the end, a cause for any complaint: whatever one’s personal perspective on affirmative action, the result is an anthology which, for whatever reason, is more cohesive, more fulfilling, stronger than its predecessor.

“The Pelican Bar,” by Karen Joy Fowler has Norah, the archetypal renegade teen, receive a rather unusual gift for her fifteenth birthday: incarceration, in an isolated camp run by mysterious, pitiless adults. Norah’s travails are portrayed unflinchingly, but with compassion. “Pelican Bar” gets the anthology off to an excellent start, with a coming-of-age tale in which the underlying message is left deliberately muddy.

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