The logic behind the arrangement of most anthologies is a mystery to anyone but their editors, and that’s true here. While the last volume (#3) in this series I reviewed had some of Simak’s strongest work, this (#8) has a fair amount of filler – decent, but uninspiring, and not mostly at the level I look for from Simak. Happily, there are some standouts. The best stories are:
- Kindergarten – A mysterious alien box that gives perfectly targeted gifts. Highly reminiscent of “Operation Stinky” in volume 7, or vice versa, since that was written later.
- Death Scene – Foreknowledge of the coming day ends war, but it has its costs. A nicely understated story that illustrates its point without hitting us over the head with it.
- Census – When we’ve moved away from cities, and the census does more than just count people. The end leans toward the bathetic, but the bulk of the story is good.
A nice selection of stories, but not Simak’s best.