Prism by Roland Allnach


Reviewed by Douglas Cobb

Just like prisms reveal brilliant colors of the spectrum, so does Roland Allnach’s collection of short stories, Prism, reveal a wide spectrum of brilliantly written short fiction written by a master storyteller. The majority of the 17 short stories in Prism have been previously published in venues ranging from Rose & Thorn Journal to Bewildering Journal. Prism is like a collection of greatest hits that just keep on coming, each successive tale better than the preceding one, but all of them crafted and refined by a genius wordsmith.

This review won’t discuss every single one of the gems within the pages of Prism, as that would somewhat spoil the joy that readers of this fine collection owe to themselves to experience firsthand. However, I will mention a few of the short stories to give you a tantalizing taste of the banquet of tales that await you.

The first short story in Prism is “After the Empire.” It was originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of The Armchair Aesthete. The tale is told primarily through the thoughts and perspective of a soldier who still seeks stubbornly to defend his city despite its having been overrun by a ruthless enemy. The soldier is sick, hungry, and thirsty, but he is persistent in honoring what he feels is his duty.

The only other character who speaks and attempts to befriend the soldier is a woman who had been a servant in the household of a wealthy man’s family. Everybody except for her has been killed. She is the only one left. When the soldier meets her, he asks her if she has a horse he can use even before he asks for some water to drink. The soldier is stubborn, perhaps due to a sense of loyalty; or, perhaps because he knows no other way of life.

11,” the second tale in the collection, was originally published in the Fall 2008 issue of Allegory. The story is about a man, Carl, who feels as if he has been tormented by an unseen person ever since he was a young boy. The tormentor seems to delight in destroying any tiny hints of happiness in Carl’s life, killing a pet dog that he had when he was a boy, burning down his parents’ house with them trapped inside, ruining any chances he might have had at love and a real life. What is the significance of the number “11” and the tattoo of it that Carl, who becomes a janitor, has on his hand? You will have to read the story to find out!

The third short story in Prism, “Icon,” first appeared in the January 2009 issue of Midnight Times. The story tells about a music critic, who is known wherever he goes as just “the critic.” He can make or break the musical acts he sees with just a few lines in his column. In “Icon,” he becomes infatuated with a particular act, a woman who sings punk music, drinks vodka and vomits on the stage. The critic treasures every encounter he has with her, even the most fleeting ones. He bails her out of jail several times yet never turns his back on her, even when he, himself, is criticized for losing his objectivity.

These three wonderful short stories are just the beginning of Prism by Roland Allnach. He writes of tragic love, serial killers, aliens, and many other topics, and includes elements of speculative fiction, myths, science fiction, and horror in the 17 tales in this latest collection. If you are looking for an excellent collection of short stories from one of today’s premier authors, look no further than Prism by Roland Allnach!

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