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  • A nice variety.

    I love short stories, and it's a rare thing these days to find collections of stand-alone stories. Anthea Sharp writes such stories, each with a definite ending, and I've read all of her collections to date. Coffee and Change is the latest one. These stories differ from her usual fare in that they are set in this reality and are speculative fiction rather than fantasy. Being short stories, it's hard to discuss them without mentioning details, but I'll say that I enjoyed all of them. One I had read previously and the other four are new to me. That's a good score, considering that I've read most of Ms. Sharp's work. Here's a thought or two for each story. No spoilers. No Free Lunch - Stand at a crossroads of timelines, flip a coin, and see if you can do as well as this waitress. Virtual Hero - Can gaming experience translate to real world skills? Kids find out the hard way here. This is a memorable story. Grounds for Dismissal - Silly, a little funny, I thought, and a bit puzzling. I know that's because I'm a tea drinker. Designer coffee is foreign to me. Your experience will no doubt differ from mine. Real Challenge - This story is the sole nod to Ms. Sharp's world of Feyland. It's background story and development of a character that later appears in the series. And an interesting look at gaming competition. Ice in D Minor - The science and technology here get a hand wave, and we can only hope it's in our future. I believe mankind can accomplish much when confronted with a train that is indeed headed straight for it. This story is about the collective will to survive. It's haunting and moving and will make you think "if only..." This is my favorite of the collection. Fun to read, and recommended for all.

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