Darren Speegle & Michael Bailey’s Prisms is an anthology centered almost entirely upon the strange matter of point of view. Whole stories exploring the question of changing points of view. The pieces within this collection vary from obviously science fiction and fantasy, to seemingly being a slice of life.
Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Motel Business” is a strange little story from the point of view of a sad divorced man who renovated an old motel with the intent to live there and work to make a nice living. A troubled woman, 29 and running from a broken marriage, arrives and the man makes decent conversation. As with many stories in this collection, there is a twist; however, even without it there are some noticeable themes.
Broken marriages, and the question of living in solitude with lesser circumstances than one might expect prove a seeming set of shared circumstances. The reflections on depression in this story, potential abuse and control, and the strange directions one takes in life when attempting to start over all create details which can be simultaneously touching and slightly disturbing.
A degree of symbolism is used with numbers and colors in the story, and a reader who pays attention to the numbers may begin to suspect something of the ending a little early. The colors, on the other hand, extend even to the outside businesses to a certain extent. Paying attention to what the narrator says and his overall attitude to life, is very much recommended.
Paul Di Filippo’s “All in a Leaky Tin Can Head” is an oddity with an almost sloganeering style to start, and quickly marks itself by just how different it seems in comparison to the other tales in the book – a story clearly involving cybernetic upgrading, as well as some sort of armed conflict.
There are a series of events, culminating in a disaster, yet it is the use of language which puts together the most defining aspect of this story. Playful, often childish words and phrases mix with more educated sounding terms and fiercely violent and disturbing ones, all create a tone and atmosphere which is hard to describe. A reader might need to read a few sentences in this story twice, but the overall narrative is understandable enough.
An excellent cover by Ben Baldwin graces this volume, with art laying out different point of view while simultaneously seeming to suggest a unification. It is quite effective, with even the rear cover sporting a variation rather than a repeat of the art.
It’s likely one will find at least one story here with something of interest to them. There are tales that are horrifying and uplifting, strange and seemingly simple.
(PS Publishing, 2021)