Tirquorum One is the first in a new collection of novellas
from Pendragon Press, showcasing the writing talents of John
Grant, Allen Ashley and Lavie Tidhar, all of whom are previously
Interlopers, by Allen Ashley, is an intriguing slice of
the weird. I guess at some point in our lives we've all asked
ourselves the difficult questions - like do I really exist?
Like most people we are able to anchor ourselves in reality
by the things we own and the people who know us. Not so John
Taylor, a nondescript name for a decidedly nondescript life.
Things take a turn for the worse when John discovers that
a couple inhabits his house whilst he is out, but John is
too ineffective to really do anything about it. Worse still
people are starting to ignore him at work.
in parallel with John's story is another of a man taking a
virtual journey. The two parts of the story work well to undermine
the notion that there is something called reality. John's
slow decline and withdrawal from reality is well paced and
his characterisation is spot on. Ashley deftly draws a picture
of a man who wouldn't say "boo" to a goose. Because
of this the reader never questions why he would put up with
a couple living in his flat. When the world retreats from
him he suffers frustration, but cannot gather the courage
or force of will to do anything about it. His transformation,
from nonentity in name to one in fact, reminded me a lot of
Harlan Ellison's Shatterday, another great story of
creepy transformation. A good thought provoking story well
worth an hour of anyone's time.
wonder why all the people you date seem to have similar traits,
well John Grant has in The Thirty-Million Day Dance Card.
This is the story of a man who appears to be very unlucky
in love - from stillbirth relationships in college to the
loss of his wife in a plane crash. Simon McLafferty has certainly
had his traumas until he meets the very beautiful Jeanne.
But Jeanne has a secret, don't all good women? Look away now
if you don't want me to spoil the novella for you as it's
difficult to discuss the story without giving away the ending,
but I'll give it a good shot. Whilst the premise of the story
was interesting the reveal at the end was a little confusing
if Jeanne can manipulate reality to constantly find the same
man then why doesn't Simon do the same thing after the loss
of his first love. It's never really made clear whether this
is an ability he discovers at the point of death or if he
has been able to do this all along. Still, that niggle aside
this is another well written story which is a worthy addition
to this collection.
last novella in this collection is Leaves of Glass by
Lavie Tidhar, a man who obviously has a vendetta against poets
as he has placed a lot of them in a vision of hell. The story
details Walt Whitman's visit to Houdin, who persuades him
to take a turn on his Dream Chair, a journey that Walt reluctantly
undertakes. What follows is akin to Walt's worst acid trip.
It's never explained where Walt goes and to be honest it would
be redundant as Tidhar then proceeds to take the reader on
a fantastical journey worthy of Coleridge's drug fuelled madness.
Overall this is a good collection at a reasonable price, with
much in the writing to recommend it.
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