Review: Triangulation: End of the Rainbow

By Amanda Spedding

Moran, Bill, ed. Triangulation: End of the Rainbow. PARSEC Ink. (July 2010). ISBN: 978-0-9828606-0-1. USD$13.50 hard triangulationcover-svr-page003-webcopy, USD$5.00 ebook. Cover art: Vincent Chong.

“What Will You Find at the End of the Rainbow? A Hawaiian princess? A French widow in a magical house? An imaginary friend? Transcendence? Hell? Within these pages you’ll find all this, and more.”

Editor Bill Moran takes the reins this year for End of the Rainbow, the fourth in PARSEC Ink’s Triangulation series. With an open interpretation on the theme for writers, the 19 short stories selected here run the gamut of the spectrum. So diverse, and with the ‘rainbow’ theme either prominent, finely spun (or tenuous at best) it was difficult to get a handle on the selection criteria for the theme-oriented anthology. Just hear me out.

It seems like an odd thing to say when the first story is titled “The Rainbow Vendor”. David Sklar’s piece is a charming tale of faith versus reason, and the fallout when one’s belief is slowly chipped away. While centered around magic, the religious parallels are woven with a keen eye. It kicks off the collection perfectly.

Kylie Bullivant’s “Making Friends” follows, and was one of my favourites of the anthology. The ‘rainbow’ theme is a little more subtle in this piece, but the story of identity through mental illness stayed with me ’til the end of the book.

Mark Onspaugh’s “Tourist Trap” shoots us into the future where the perils of drink can have disastrous results. I liked this story; it’s light-hearted and crimes-against-‘humanity’ dark. Mr. Onspaugh balances it very well.

Three startlingly different stories in, and with a blend of fantasy, superstition, and great zombie flash piece following, I wondered where Mr. Moran and his assistant editors Jamie Lackey, Joseph Benedetto, Deanna Hardin, and Steve Ramey were taking me. My main concern was whether the theme for this anthology would carry through as well as the editors hoped it would. I was struggling to see the ‘rainbow’ connection in a few of them. The high calibre of stories had me reserving judgement, but I was halfway through and starting to get worried – a themed anthology is exactly that.

We travel from the horror of the old ways to the future of Tinatsu Wallace’s “A Womb of my Own” and Ron Sering’s “Spirit House” fuses ancient with modern in a sordid tale of excess. There’s a little something in this collection for everyone, but I was waiting for a Wizard of Oz homage. I got it with “The House at the End of the Rainbow”. Amy Treadwell’s story captivates from beginning to end. The ‘magical house’ from the back cover’s blurb belongs to Agnes. Journeying the world on rainbow’s fate, Ms. Treadwell tempers the wonderment with fear and lonlieness that marked this as one of the stand-outs in the collection.

The other, for me, is Jaime Lee Moyer’s “Commander Perry’s Mystic Wonders Show”. Ms. Moyer deposits the reader in a fantastical world with fantastical creatures that are ‘everyday’ for Jodie-Marie. With unicorns, mermaids, a big show looming and a little sister with unbridled magic, Ms. Moyer weaves the modern-day troubles of teenage angst, long-standing family feuds, and acceptance of differences, with enchantment. I wanted to live in the tent by the crossroads.

One other story that rates special mention is Erin Hoffman’s “In Lixus: Close to Waiting”. While the style might not be for everyone, this story was compelling in its story and narration. Following on the heels of Ms. Moyer’s whimsical piece, the contrast is striking and works decidedly well.

This anthology crept up on me. It wasn’t until I closed the back cover that I realised how much I enjoyed it. The “End of the Rainbow” theme does pull this anthology together and what’s best is looking back to make that connection. While some stories resonated more than others, when I went to list those worth special mention, they were more than half. And that is the true test of a collection.

One other thing I liked about this anthology is the author bios at the end of each story – this is where I believe all bios should be. I’ve just read the story and now I want to know a little about the author – I don’t want to have to flick to the end of the book and search. And Vincent Chong’s cover art represents the collection very well – fantasy, horror and sci-fi represented in one illustration – nice.

But tying it all up is Bill Moran’s afterword. It wasn’t what I expected, another box ticked. His words tug at the fear of authors and readers alike. The struggle of small press to survive amid dwindling demand for the printed word. To hold a book, smell it, read the words held in your hands – there’s not much better. If the team at PARSEC Ink are putting out quality anthologies such as this, then I think we might just be okay.

And what better treasure could one find at the end of the rainbow than books?

You can find Triangulation: End of the Rainbow on Amazon.com.

Amanda J. Spedding is a Sydney-based specfic writer who will one day have a better tagline.