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Douglas Smith takes some of his (for the most part award-winning) stories and presents them to us in the form of the novel Chimerascope. Before or after each story, Smith gives personal commentary on his inspiration or what he was trying to achieve and although interesting, it is sometimes nice to be able to deduce for yourself the hidden significance in a story. That said, Smith is obviously a gifted writer in the genre of science-fiction. From the ancient deities and their centaur and nymph friends hanging out at a bar on Toronto island and mingling with the locals, to an autistic child finding solace on an alien world where colours in the sky speak to him in a way that no human can, to a massive house that holds the remnants of humanity — 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. Although in some cases the stories were a bit predictable, Smith tells them with a flair that breathes life into his characters so that although you know the outcome, you still want to remain connected. Although Smith’s stories take place in unfamiliar worlds (even Toronto becomes unfamiliar when a shapeshifter arrives in town), 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. (Sara Ritchie)

by Douglas Smith, $18.95, 329 pgs, Chizine Publications, chizinepub.com

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