I just finished reading Douglas Smith’s second collection of short stories, called Chimerascope (Chizine Publications). These stories are primarily science fiction but there is fantasy and horror too. I enjoyed Smith’s characterization the most. These personas fly off the page and into your head and force you to think their thoughts. And that’s just about the best that fiction can aspire to.

Here’re the stories:

  • Scream Angel
  • The Red Bird
  • By Her Hand, She Draws You Down
  • New Year’s Eve
  • The Boys Are Back in Town
  • State of Disorder
  • Nothing
  • Symphony
  • Out of the Light
  • Enlightenment
  • Murphy’s Law
  • The Last Ride
  • Jigsaw
  • The Dancer at the Red Door
  • Going Harvey in the Big House
  • A Taste Sweet and Salty
  • Memories of the Dead Man

My favourites were Scream Angel and Enlightenment which are both stories in Smith’s Merged Coporate Entity universe (as is another excellent story, Memories of the Dead Man, which is from the early days of the MCE). The idea of a totally ruthless corporation driving conquest out into the stars using this drug called Scream which turns horror and pain into ecstasy was a revelation. And why wouldn’t such an extrapolation of the corporate greed that can create the tar sands and a thousand other environmental devastations upon the Earth be possible? I like these two stories because they offer hope that there is an answer and opposition to greed in Enlightenment.

The Boys Are Back in Town is an odd story combining a tavern on one of the Toronto Islands and characters from Norse and Greek mythology using mind altering substances to allow the mix. High adventure with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour. Smith is right. I think Roger Zelazny would have loved it.

My son’s been watching the Saw movies and so I had prejudicial ideas about name of the story ‘Jigsaw’ but it was such a great story and nothing to do with horror. I think the Wormer idea is so cool but I won’t spoil the story by saying what that is.

The evidence for Smith’s talent is in abundance through this entire book. There wasn’t one story I didn’t like, even the horror genre pieces which I’m normally not into. They’re all so different, even the ones set in the same universe, that it’s hard to believe they came from the same person.

Very highly recommended.

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