Chimerascope [ki-meer-uh-skohp] — a story of many parts...
Chimerascope is Doug's first full collection of short fiction, containing sixteen of his best stories, including an Aurora Award winner, a Best New Horror selection, and eight Aurora finalists. Sixteen stories of fantasy and science fiction that take you from love in fourteenth-century Japan to humanity's last stand, from virtual reality to the end of reality, from alien drug addictions to a dinner where a man loses everything.
With an introduction by award-winning author and editor, Julie Czerneda.
"...Chimerascope is a massively enjoyable trek through the far-fetched, the horrifying, and the flat-out weird, all filtered through Smith's remarkable imagination and prodigious talent. ... Although Smith's tales may centre on the fantastic, what is immediately notable is his steady grasp of character, which lends humanity to even the most absurd situations. The stories in this collection traverse genres and styles — from outright horror to witty surrealism to martial-arts mythology — without missing a beat. ... 'The Dancer at the Red Door,' with its mix of oblique horror, urban fantasy, and monsters equipped with pincers extending 'from each side of a slit-like mouth,' recalls Clive Barker at his most disturbingly fanciful. ... The closing story, the post-apocalyptic narrative 'Memories of the Dead Man,' contains echoes of Stephen King. Chimerascope is a sterling set, with nary a weak or disposable entry. Smith's writing, evocative yet understated, gracefully brings to life his imagined realms."– Quill and Quire, Mar 2010 *Starred Review*
"From a bittersweet tale of love amid the savagery of human galactic conquest ("Scream Angel") to a postapocalyptic story of a righteous gunman known only as the Dead Man ("Memories of the Dead Man"), the 16 stories in this collection showcase the inventive mind and immense storytelling talent of one of Canada's most original writers of speculative fiction. Covering the spectrum from sf ("Enlightenment") to horror ("By Her Hand, She Draws You Down") to fantasy ("The Boys Are Back in Town"), Smith writes with a keen eye for detail and atmosphere, crafting each story with wit and perception. VERDICT: Twice winner of Canada's Aurora Award, Smith writes stories that will appeal to fans of such literary sf writers such as Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe."– Library Journal, Mar 2010
"Smith is obviously a gifted writer in the genre of science-fiction. … Smith paints his worlds so well that you are transported within a paragraph or two and remain in transit until the short story ends — a challenging feat to be sure. Smith takes common science-fiction topics, such as love between alien races, and manages to find a new way to have his tales unfold. … Smith tells them with a flair that breathes life into his characters. … [The] familiar traits that drive human needs and wants — such as ambition, pride, love, hate and fear — are what piece these stories together and give them a life of their own."– Broken Pencil, The Magazine of Zine Culture and the Independent Arts, August 2010
"Smith's second collection (after 2008's Impossibilia) delivers an entertaining selection of stories that deftly span multiple genres, often milking surprisingly original tales out of tired tropes. The Zelazny-inspired "The Boys Are Back in Town" nicely toes the line between quirky humor and pathos. "State of Disorder," featuring a classic mad scientist out for revenge, is a neat twist on time travel and quantum physics. "Jigsaw," a young adult tale, is a fun romp involving aliens and continental drift. The best of the bunch, "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down," is a haunting variant on the vampire legend with an understated and brutal ending."– Publishers Weekly, Jan 2010
"[An] engaging and entertaining volume, pieces of whose content resonate after the book is finished."– Booklist, Apr 2010
They stopped beating Trelayne when they saw that he enjoyed it. The thugs that passed as cops in that town on Long Shot backed away from where he lay curled on the dirt floor, as if he was something dead or dangerous. He watched them lock the door of his cold little cell again. Disgust and something like fear showed in their eyes. The taste of their contempt for him mixed with the sharpness of his own blood in his mouth. And the Scream in that blood shot another stab of pleasure through him.
He expected their reaction. The Merged Corporate Entity guarded its secrets well, and Scream was its most precious. Long Shot lay far from any Entity project world and well off the jump route linking Earth and the frontier. No one on this backwater planet would know of the drug, let alone have encountered a Screamer or an Angel. That was why he had picked it.
Their footsteps receded, and the outer door of the plasteel storage hut that served as the town jail clanged shut. Alone, he rolled onto his side on the floor, relishing the agony the movement brought. He tried to recall how he came to be there, but the Scream in him turned each attempt into an emotional sideshow. Finally he remembered something burning, something...
It had been one of their better shows.
He remembered now. Remembered last night, standing in the ring of their makeshift circus dome, announcing the performers to an uncaring crowd, crying out the names of the damned, the conquered. Each member of his refugee band emerged from behind torn red curtains and propelled themselves in the manner of their species into or above the ring, depending on their chosen act.
He knew the acts meant little. The crowd came not to see feats of acrobatics or strength, but to gawk at otherworldly strangeness, to watch aliens bow in submission before the mighty human. Trelayne's circus consisted of the remnants of the subjugated races of a score of worlds, victims to the Entity's resource extraction or terraforming projects: the Stone Puppies, lumbering silica beasts of slate-sided bulk—Guppert the Strong, squat bulbous-limbed refugee from the crushing gravity and equally crushing mining of Mendlos II—Feran the fox-child, his people hunted down like animals on Fandor IV.
And the Angels. Always the Angels.
But curled in the dirt in the cold cell, recalling last night, Trelayne pushed away any thoughts of the Angels. And of her.
Yes, it had been a fine show. Until the Ta'lona died, exploding in blood and brilliance high above the ring, after floating too near a torch. Trelayne had bought the gas bag creature's freedom a week before from an ip slaver, knowing that its species had been nearly wiped out.
As pieces of the fat alien had fallen flaming into the crowd, Trelayne's grip on reality had shattered like a funhouse mirror struck by a hammer. He could now recall only flashes of what had followed last night: people burning—screaming—panic—a stampede to the exits—his arrest.
Nor could he remember doing any Scream. He usually stayed clean before a show. But he knew what he felt now lying in the cell—the joy of the beating, the ecstasy of humiliation. He must have done a hit when the chaos began and the smell of burnt flesh reached him. To escape the horror.
Or to enter it. For with Scream, horror opened a door to heaven.
Someone cleared their throat in the cell. Trelayne jumped, then shivered at the thrill of surprise. Moaning, he rolled onto his back on the floor and opened his eyes, struggling to orient himself again.
A man now sat on the cot in the cell. A man with a lean face and eyes that reminded Trelayne of his own. He wore a long grey cloak with a major's rank and a small insignia on which a red "RIP" hovered over a green planet split by a lightning bolt.
The uniform of RIP Force. A uniform that Trelayne had worn a lifetime ago. Grey meant Special Services: this man was RIP, but not a Screamer. RIP kept senior officers and the SS clean.
The man studied a PerComm unit held in a black-gloved hand, then looked down at Trelayne and smiled. "Hello, Captain Trelayne," he said softly, as if he were addressing a child.
Trelayne swallowed. He was shaking and realized he had been since he had recognized the uniform. "My name is not Trelayne."
"I am Weitz," the man said. The PerComm disappeared inside his cloak. "And the blood sample I took from you confirms that you are Jason Lewiston Trelayne, former captain and wing commander in the Entity's Forces for the Relocation of Indigenous Peoples, commonly known as RIP Force. Convicted of treason in absentia three years ago, 2056-12-05 AD. Presumed dead in the MCE raid on the rebel base on Darcon III in 2057-08-26."
Trelayne licked his lips, savouring the flavour of his fear.
"You're a wanted man, Trelayne." Weitz's voice was soft. "Or would be, if the Entity knew you were still alive."