On a mission to recover an ancient artifact, an amnesiac girl unlocks the terrible secret of humanity's past and future. The implementation of a radical new technology sends an unlucky test pilot into a dimension of enlightenment and horror. A mystic obsessed with higher-order camouflage uncovers the true face of the world. Lovers on a wilderness trek encounter the unspeakable in a place where time and space turn on themselves. A harmless question posed to a Ouija board unleashes an unusual plague. And a crack team of mutants and monstrosities storms the stronghold of a mad god in a last-ditch effort to rescue Reality itself from delirium and decay.
In Shout Kill Revel Repeat, the debut collection of short fiction from Scott R. Jones, you'll be introduced to nihilistic shapeshifters, deranged billionaire magicians, surf champions, survivalists, sadists, and soldiers, all of whom learn that to live is to enter into a never-ending cycle of fury and fear, dark revelation and deepest regret.
Scott Jones really captured my attention with this rich, dark cover, and the collection of surprising stories behind it. From mystics and mutants to lovers and test pilots, Jones takes us on unexpected journeys into the sci-fi beyond. – J. Scott Coatsworth
"Scott R. Jones is a genuine master of horror, thoroughly contemporary and at the same time rooted in the best traditions of the field. His work ranges from heights of cosmic awe to the depths of the darkest psychology, and I predict he has by no means finished astonishing us. May he carry his uncanny flame into territories he has yet to reveal, as only he can."– Ramsey Campbell, author of The Grin of the Dark and Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach
"Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos is a conceptual pearl worth preserving in spite of the hermetic shell of his racism and misogyny and the long-expired pulp cliches within. But where so many modern authors haphazardly grind up shell and meat and get only echoes of anachronistic chills, Scott R. Jones extracts and mounts the pearl in a post-everything setting that artfully restores its nihilistic luster. Cyberpunk eyeball-kicks! Post-human paranoia! Corporate eschatology! But seriously, what Jones understands so well that separates him from the rest of us Innsmouth-breathers is not the power of the Mythos to untether our fragile minds, but our ability to adapt to and normalize the unthinkable."– Cody Goodfellow, author of Radiant Dawn and Unamerica
"In Shout Kill Revel Repeat, Scott R. Jones blends mind-blowing science fiction and mysticism with Lovecraftian concepts, stunningly mutated into unique configurations to excite even the most jaded Mythos reader. Throughout this standout debut collection, there are compelling themes of identity, transformation, and inescapable doom, enacted against vivid backgrounds both mundane and nightmarishly alien. With his staggering imagination and beautiful prose voice, Jones proves himself to be among the absolute best of our contemporary writers of weird fiction."– Jeffrey Thomas, author of Punktown
The headhunter was very clear with Domitian Hark during the hiring process. Yes, Hark would be working, finally, at Eidolon, in the London complex, just as he'd dreamed of doing since junior high, and yes, Aldo Tusk himself had singled him out for the position, based on the credentials and accolades Hark had amassed at Virginia Tech, and of course there had been the pioneering work he'd done with his start-up before that.
Hark had been noticed, basically, and the kind of money Eidolon was offering made it clear that he had been noticed in the good way. The kind of notice that made Hark think, aloud, during that final meeting with the headhunter, that perhaps he'd see another life-long dream fulfilled and get to meet the legendary Tusk in person.
"No." Her tone was clipped, final. "Aldo doesn't do meet. Meetings. With staff. With anyone."
Hark was disappointed, obviously, but he could understand the reasoning. Tusk was a stone paranoid, notoriously private, and what passed for his public persona was so perfectly managed and polished that controversy could never connect to him. There were rumours of strange kinks and shady dealings, but nothing that you wouldn't expect of someone with the kind of money and power that Tusk enjoyed. The mutterings of the jealous, of those without the energy and vision, the drive necessary to do what Tusk had done, which was change the world, and profoundly so.
Hark had been told to never expect a meeting. That had been made abundantly clear. So it was with a good deal of shock that he had found Aldo Tusk mucking about in his lab.
Hark had stepped out of the lab for a meal in the commissary, and had taken rather longer than he would have liked, thanks to a dense half hour of wildly speculative conversation with some excitable colleagues who wanted to pick his brain for their special projects.
Every project at Eidolon was a special project, and everyone talked to everyone else: a brain-trust the size of the planet. Tusk was a big booster for Feyerabend, and swore by his philosophy; there was a copy of Against Method in Hark's onboarding package, even. So if his fellow eggheads in the bio-weapon or optics labs thought the new superconductive graphene fluids his lab was working with might have application, who was he to withhold his insights? Tusk liked an open culture, insisted upon it, had made it part and parcel of the contracts. It was right up there with the NDA. He claimed the free-range cross-pollination between the many disciplines under his worldwide roof was what made Eidolon great. Who knew if he wasn't right?
Right or wrong, though, he was there, impossibly, in Hark's lab. He'd kicked away Hark's chair and was bent over the main workstation, flicking at the data-field with a nervous finger, sending flurries of information across the holographic space to cluster in the corners and clog up the modeling frames.
Tusk wore the modified two-toned black-and-bronze tang suit that was (according to his small private army of publicists) his only clothing; there were wardrobes full of identical suits in each of his homes and facilities across the planet, each suit woven with Eidolon's proprietary nano-fibres. Everyone on the planet had a little bit of Eidolon on or in their person, but only Aldo Tusk could walk around in a yottabyte of storage, if the rumours were true. He could probably download the contents of the lab's dedicated mainframe into a quarter inch of cuff on his left sleeve, Hark thought. Maybe he was. Maybe he had, it wouldn't take long, and he would be perfectly within his rights to do so. The suit was rumpled, though, nothing like the sleek numbers he'd wear on a TED stage or when speaking to heads of state.
Hark was thrilled, and that excitement unbalanced him. There was something off about the visit, but he was too dizzy at being in the same room as Tusk to put a finger on it.
Standing in the doorway, Hark coughed nervously, and at the sound Aldo Tusk turned and straightened up in a spastic kind of hop-and-twist. Tusk was rumpled, too, for that matter. More, even, than his half-million-dollar suit. Unshaven, stubble the same salt-and-pepper grey as his mane of shoulder-length hair, which had an unwashed, greasy sheen to it. Eyes like flickering halogen bulbs, shadowed dark then overbright and hollow, beaming.
"Ah. Hark, it's Hark!" His voice had an edge, like he was whetting his tongue on his teeth. "You're here, Domitian. I was starting to wonder. Wonder about the wunderkind..."
"It's Dom, Mr Tusk, if you like. Or Hark. I mean, both. I mean, it's a real pleasure, I..."
Hark extended a hand, then withdrew it swiftly when it became clear that Tusk was not about to accept it. He tripped over the remains of his greeting before stammering through a few seconds of ill-advised hero worship that caused Tusk to visibly bristle. Recovering from that, Hark moved on to talk, more nervously than he had a right to, about the research his small team had been working on for Eidolon. Half a minute of that was enough for the realization to hit that Tusk wasn't there to perform a personal performance review, or to get an update on his progress. The awareness of this arrived with such force that Hark even said as much, out loud and with a stupid, pained expression on his face.
There was a long, acutely uncomfortable pause, then, and Hark got the very real sense that Aldo Tusk was deciding what to do with him, that his options were multiple, that most of them were not in Hark's favour, and not a few involved actual violence. Tusk practically vibrated, clenched and flexed his bony hands like a prize fighter. A vein pulsed briefly at his jawline. Finally, the man relaxed. A smoothness came over him; the hackles went down.
"No. No, I'm not." Tusk brushed at some unseen flake of material at his lapel, and stepped aside to let Hark back at his station. "Please, I don't want to interrupt you. Sit."
Hark did as he was told, and made a cursory attempt to re-order his work. Tusk had done a real number on the data-field with that finger.
"At least, not much. I mean, I am interrupting you a little, wouldn't you say, Hark?"
"It's really not a problem, Mr Tusk. Whatever you need. If I can help in any way..."
"Need. Needs. Yes. I trust in Eidolon to give you what you need, and I trust you—and by you, I mean, of course, all my staff, you understand, Hark?—to feed back into Eidolon what it needs. Symbiosis is the key with which we open so many doors. So many."
"I do, sir. I mean, I understand. It's...it's a wonderful opportunity. Really."
"Hm. Yes." At that, Tusk's eyes went vacant, and he stared off into the middle distance for a moment or two before snapping back. The effect was jarring, like watching a marionette go still, then jerk at the twitch of a string. Hark felt distinctly uncomfortable watching his employer; the image of the world-class genius that he'd nurtured his career aspirations on clashed badly with the actual person, who seemed full of the kind of twitchy, dreamlike energy Hark had only seen in the Sky abusers he'd shared dorm rooms with in college.
But Tusk was back now, and watching Hark watch him, and so the younger scientist turned to his work, made some noises about an interesting development that had been noted earlier in the week. Three sentences into that, Hark recalled the moment before: Tusk agreeing with his clumsy realization that he wasn't there for a progress report. By then he was on a roll, though, and unable to stop; it was all he could do not to slap himself for stupidity. He soldiered on, sweating, mumbling like an idiot through his embarrassment. Finally, and much to his relief, Tusk interrupted his horrid stream of technical language.
"You're on the spectrum, aren't you?" he said, and when Hark nodded in response, he clapped a sudden hand to his shoulder. In benediction? Camaraderie? "That's all right. Who isn't these days, right? It's an epidemic." The latter, then. "Do you know what Eidolon is for, Hark?"
"The company. My company. Eidolon. Do you know what it's for?"
"Ah. Research and development, Mr Tusk. I mean, at base."
Tusk laughed. "At base! At base it's for making me rich, Hark. Dom. But no, I don't mean that. What did I build Eidolon for? To what purpose?"
Hark struggled to recall the zippy aphorisms that peppered the virtual pages of his onboarding documents, but came up short. "Well...betterment, Mr Tusk. Of society. The planet. Humanity. Eidolon has been there at the edge of most of the advances of the last twenty years."
"Hm. You're talking about the Mars missions."
"Sure. Yes. I mean, of course. And the T-resonator clean-energy plants. Your hyperloops connect the globe. And medicine! My God. You funded Leonid Carstairs, and now cancer is...it's done. Over."
Tusk sniffed, examined a fingernail. "So. Betterment. That's your answer."
Hark became certain, in that moment, that it was the wrong answer. How could it be, though? "But...the world is better. Sir."
Tusk turned his back on Hark and began to pace the room, imperious heels clicking soundly on the tiles at each step.
"You're right, of course. But it's not the reason I created Eidolon. Hark, goes the call, Hark. Heh. Hark, lift up your eyes and rejoice, for I have made the world a better place!" He turned, fixed the blazing vacuities of his eyes on the middle distance again. "But we are not."
"I don't follow, Mr Tusk."
"Transcendence, Hark. The real goal of all science, if we're honest about things. It's not enough to beat back ignorance through the accumulation of knowledge." Tusk's pacing brought him close to Hark's chair again, and the older man leaned in close so that his next words were barely above a whispering hiss.
"And what does that do, anyway? Really? My lifetime of effort, stoking the flames? Build the bonfire as large as you like, it merely illuminates how much more fucking darkness there is. Outside the firelight. In the outer spaces. Beneath our feet. Below everything."
Hark sputtered something about the intrinsic value of the search for truth. Tusk laughed again.
"And it is, of course, not true that we have to follow the truth. Human life is guided by many ideas; Truth is one of them." Tusk's voice cracked and hitched at the word guided, and a visible shudder passed through his frame. Hark understood that he was hearing a prepared speech, a quote perhaps. Feyerabend, possibly. Likely. Hark wished he'd spent more time with his copy of Against Method. Tusk continued.
"If Truth, as conceived by some ideologists, conflicts with Freedom, then we have a choice. We may abandon Freedom. But we may also abandon Truth.
"We are not better, Dom. Humanity. For all our striving. You go all dewy-eyed at the mention of the cure for cancer, but..."
It was Hark's turn to bristle. "I lost my sister to cancer. Before..."
"Ah. Before the Carstairs Solution. I see. Okay. Okay, Dom, let's say your dear sis had lived long enough to see the cure that came from the good Dr. Carstairs and Eidolon labs. What would still await her, now? What awaits you? Me? What awaits us all, healthy and ill alike?"
The answer hung in the air around them, and Hark felt he was treading cold waters, bottomless and hungry.
"I built Eidolon in order to transcend, Dom Hark. Our limitations. Disease. Death. Time."
Hark chuckled nervously. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for, eh? Mr Tusk, sir, that's...I mean, they've called you an egomaniac, you know. I just didn't think..."
"They were right? Heh. Look around you. This is what a little madness creates, Dom. Worth it, I'd say. It gets you close. I'm so close, now." Tusk shuddered again, and a ragged little sigh slid from his mouth. It was, Hark thought, vaguely obscene. Like something private he shouldn't be seeing.
"You one of those New Atheists, Hark? Do you, oh, what's the term the kids use." He crooked two fingers in the air. "Do you fucking love science? Heh."
"I don't have a personal god, if that's what you mean, Mr Tusk. Or at least, it's never seemed to me to be a reasonable position to have. That deities, if they existed, would have plans. I guess you could say I'm agnostic? Sir."
Tusk stopped pacing, then lunged for the door. "I'm going to show you something. Follow."
Hark did as he was told.