Triangulation: Dark Glass
The 2009 edition of PARSEC Ink’s Annual Confluence of Speculative Fiction

Edited by Pete Butler
Reviewed by Susie Hawes

Mr. Butler has done a fine job of bringing in just the right mix of thoughtful comedy, bone-chilling suspense and touching, realistic drama. 

This is a themed anthology.  Inside each story you will find a dark glass in some form, is it a crystal to house evil souls?  A mirror image of our darker soul?  A house for a genie or an old man’s soul?

Mark Onspaugh’s deft comedy, “The Milton Feinhoff Problem”, examines no only the possibility of alternate dimensions, but shines a bright and humorous light on the soul of Everyman.  With clever narration and sharp dialog he paints a satirical portrait of man’s social and political structures that will make the reader give a rueful laugh.  This was the perfect story to start the book with.

“Saint Darwin’s Spirituals”, by D.K.Thompson, is a frightening vision of what might happen should mankind misuse religion to judge each others’ souls.  It’s also the story of one such man, who suffers a crisis of conscience and the solution he finds while hoping to redeem himself, and perhaps, others.

“Imaginal Friends”, by Kenneth B. Chiacchia, takes a look at an alternate society of humans trying to live in the ruins of an alien race.  The aliens are gone now, but their beliefs were so passionate that even death could not strike them from existence.  Told through the eyes of a child, this story is a frightening comment on prejudice.  It makes the reader wonder … if a similar mindset to the one the aliens embraced were found in our society, would we consider their single-minded faith in their belief to be a strength?  A weakness?

Dancing Lessons, by Aaron Polsen, is a creepy little tale.  It’s my personal favorite in this anthology, although, truthfully, with these stories it’s hard to pick just one.  This story takes place in a world where carnivals feature, among other wonders, corpses that dance for the viewers’ amusement. 

I love the line, “… more concerned with ‘could we’ than ‘should we’, they crafted an animaton of metal and flesh.”  At night he’s kept in a coffin filled with pickling substance, and during the day he amazes the carnival’s audiences. 

I found him to be a sad wonder.  In this story a child shows a monster more heart than anyone he’s dealt with before, and finds a way to say goodbye to someone she once loved.

This anthology is strong, funny, dark, and thoroughly amazing.  In one reading, and be sure, I went through it in one reading, I found myself able to look through and look into the dark glass.  Always I saw such wonderful visions, though not always such comfortable ones.  Mr. Butler is moving on now; the next Triangulation anthology will have a new editor. 

I hope they do as fine a job.

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