TRIQUORUM ONE

Edited by Chris Teague

Reviewed by Gary McMahon

The novella and novelette are my favourite length for genre fiction: not too long to outstay their welcome, and more substantial than a simple short story. When I heard that Pendragon Press was publishing a volume containing not one, not two, but three of the latter, I began to eagerly anticipate the result, a slim, attractive little book tantalisingly called Triquorum One.

The cover and design are both quite simple, yet curiously eye-catching; possibly something to do with the bold use of the colour green. But, what of the stories? I hear you ask. Okay then, I'll go through them one at a time.

The Interlopers by Allen Ashley

John Taylor returns home from work one evening to the strange feeling that someone has been in his flat while he was away... From this intriguing opening, Ashley develops a creepy and at times slightly surreal story that examines such heady topics as the modern male persona, consensual reality and the very nature of identity. Along the way, he also offers an incisive critique of contemporary trash culture in the UK.

Serving up a compelling and well-paced narrative, the author does not allow the complex themes to overshadow what is basically a rattling good plot. I found the ending rather oblique and abrupt for my tastes, but this didn't hamper my enjoyment of what is easily the best story I've yet encountered by the author.

The Thirty-Million Day Dance Card by John Grant

Simon McLafferty is an ex diplomat lying on his deathbed. As Jéanne, his latest and last true love, comforts him he begins to reminisce about the other great loves in his lonely life. As the tale progresses, Simon realises that these four women are actually linked in some way, and prompted by Jéanne he discovers a fantastic secret.

While reading this story, I did guess the revelation before it came, and hence the surprise ending came as no surprise; despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the elegant prose and seamless plotting. Some of the writing here is rather wonderful, and there is an elusive elegiac quality to the whole piece that is utterly convincing. And once again the story itself is a grand one; and Grant is a very fine writer indeed. I'm almost ashamed to admit that this is the first time I've encountered John Grant's work, but it certainly won't be the last.

Leaves of Glass by Lavie Tidhar

Last but by no means least (to use a clichéd phrase--unlike the authors in this book!), we have a story that combines historical characters with fictional (and very odd) events.

The American poet Walt Whitman travels to Paris to accept a strange challenge from French conjurer Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin: take a ride in the mysterious Dream Chair and report back on what happens.

Whitman accepts the task, and soon finds himself lost and wandering in a bizarre and wonderfully realised world populated by dead poets and half-glimpsed Lovecraftian monsters.

Lavie Tidhar's tale struck me as being the ideal candidate for a comic book adaptation--its highly visual style, breakneck pacing and off-kilter worldview would lend themselves brilliantly to the medium. The only real problem I had with this story was that I wanted more. Ideally, the tale could have been lengthened to 20,000 or perhaps even 30,000 words, giving it more substance and room enough to explore the magnificent world that Tidhar creates.

So, there we have it: Triquorum One. Three very good stories very well told, each completely different from the others, and all enjoyable enough to linger in the mind long after the book is finished. From this evidence I can safely state that Chris Teague knows how to pick a damn good story, and I'm greatly looking forward to the next volume in what I dearly hope will become an annual anthology.

Triquorum One, edited by Chris Teague. Tpb, 130pp, £5.99. Published by Pendragon Press, PO Box 12, Maesteg, Mid Glamorgan, South Wales, CF34 0XG, United Kingdom.

Website: - www.pendragonpress.co.uk


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