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Prism by Roland Allnach

Prism

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.

Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach

Oddities & Entities Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

If you’re fans of quality horror literature, you owe it to yourselves to check out the up-and-coming author, Roland Allnach, and his collections of brilliant novellas, Remnant (which I’ve reviewed at this site elsewhere), and Oddities & Entities. The stories he writes are stealth bombs of suspense and they have a high creepiness factor that suck his readers in like quicksand teeming with all sorts of vile, squiggly creatures. That may sound unappetizing, if you, like his characters, are mired in the quicksand of predicaments he writes about; but, if you’re a fan of the horror genre reading them, they’re like electrical shocks to the pleasure centers of the brain.

Oddities & Entities consists of six marvelous miniature masterpieces of horror. I won’t go into each in-depth, but I will touch on some of the many highlights that make this a stand-out collection that you should add to your personal libraries. The six novellas are: “Boneview (one of my personal favorites),”Shift/Change,” “My Other Me,” “Gray,” “Elmer Phelps (also nicely atmospheric and twisted),” and the collection concludes with the polished gem, “Appendage.”

“Boneview,” is a tale about a young woman who has a most remarkable gift, though it’s often more like a curse to her: Allison can use her psychic ability called boneview to see how people will die. It’s like she gets an X-ray gaze into their futures, into whatever degenerative bone diseases the people might develop. Allison can peer into their bodies and learn if they will get into a car wreck, or fall off of a ladder and break their necks.

Allison discovers that her powers are more of a burden than a blessing. Two different entities want to get at her and use her for their own purposes. There’s a bizarre but very cool creature called the Curmudgeon who wants to become more human, and desires to steal her first-born to accomplish this goal. And, there’s someone who is ostensibly a human, but who travels all around the country killing people with the sight and cutting out their eyeballs to save their immortal souls.

Remnant by Roland Allnach

Remnant by Roland AllnachReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

One of science fiction’s most outstanding rising stars, the talented author Roland Allnach, has an anthology of three creative and brilliant novellas out now, Remnant, that should be a hit with anyone who loves science fiction, in general, and the Military SF genre in particular. He’s already had one of his short stories nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and he’s had several of them appear in various publications. Remnant’s three novellas, “All the Fallen Angels,” “Enemy, I Know You Not,” and “Remnant,” mark a distinct growth for the author, and each are gems of suspense and craftmanship that will keep you on the edge of your seat. They’re all great stories on their own merits, but collected together in the pages of this anthology, they make for a must-read volume. In this review, I’ll briefly discuss each of the three novellas that make up Remnant and get into some of the reasons I think each one is worth reading, and why the name of Roland Allnach is rapidly garnishing the attention of science fiction fans around the world.

All the Fallen Angels,”starts off the anthology with a bang. Captain Stohko Jansing (he was a Colonel and is referred to as such in scenes from his past in the short story) has had a history that was both distinguished and infamous, in turn. He is haunted by his memories of what happened to him on the beautiful and spell-binding planet Hermium, how he went from being a peacekeeper to a killer, and his and his wife’s desires to have children. Stohko discovers he can’t escape his past, and having been put on trial for his war-crimes, including shooting and killing a nine-year-old girl.

He is the captain of his own ship, trying to leave his past behind him, but he’s drawn back into dealing with the military when an IS agent, Colonel Osler, makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Stohko’s ship will be repaired, and his mounting debts paid off, if he will agree to towing a ship, the Chyrsopoeia, to Hermium to dump it off there. It’s a high-risk transport–Stohko is not told what is inside the ship, but it seems that whatever it is makes the job one no one else wants to take. It’s a cursed ship, that even its rats abandoned. But, can he and his crew make it to Hermium, without an effect known as Hermium euphoria driving them to actions they wouldn’t ordinarily commit?