The fourth Guys Read collection presents an all-star lineup with nine new stories and one oldie-but-goody.
It is anchored by Ray Bradbury’s 1946 “Frost and Fire,” about colonists stranded for generations on a planet so harsh that the average life span is less than two weeks. Otherwise, the new science-fiction and fantasy tales range from three far-from-similar stories about unsuccessful alien invasions of Earth to Tom Angleberger’s tale of smart clothes in rebellion, an eerie ghost story from Kenneth Oppel and, just to push the “guy” envelope, a “girl in armor” episode from Shannon Hale. Rick Riordan takes the prize for best opener: “I know what you’re going to ask. ‘Percy Jackson, why are you hanging from a Times Square billboard without your pants on, about to fall to your death?’ ” Happily, the other entries are well-enough supplied with effective hooks, provocative themes, and hilarious or disquieting twists to keep readers of diverse ages, sexes and species engaged.
The perennially tantalizing “What if…” gets an above-average workout here. (author bios; not seen) (Short stories. 10-13)