Reviews of Doug's body of work

The Lost Expedition (The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3)
The Crystal Key (The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2)
The Hollow Boys (The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1)
The Wolf at the End of the World


Writing Guides:
Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction (2nd edition)

Short Stories:
A Bird in the HandA Taste Sweet and SaltyBouquet of Flower in a Vase, by Van Gogh
By Her Hand, She Draws You DownDoorwaysDream FlightEnlightenmentFiddleheads
Going Down to Lucky TownGoing Harvey in the Big HouseGypsy Biker's Coming HomeIf I Should Fall BehindJigsawMemories of the Dead ManMurphy's LawNew Year's EveNothingOregon ShootersOut of the Light
Radio NowhereScream AngelSpirit DanceState of DisorderSymphony
The BalanceThe Boys are Back in TownThe Dancer at the Red Door
The Last RideThe Red BirdThe Walker of the Shifting Borderland

By Her Hand, She Draws You Down


"One of Canada's most original writers of speculative fiction."

— Library Journal

"The man is Sturgeon good. Zelazny good. I don't give those up easy. I'm not certain the man is a Martian—I haven't yet grokked the fullness—but his name is Smith. "

—Spider Robinson, Hugo and Nebula Awards winner

"A great storyteller with a gifted and individual voice."

Charles de Lint, World Fantasy Award winner

"His stories are a treasure trove of riches that will touch your heart while making you think."

Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Awards winner

"Smith's writing, evocative yet understated, gracefully brings to life his imagined realms."

Quill and Quire *Starred Review*

"Smith paints his worlds so well that you are transported within a paragraph or two and remain in transit until the story ends."

Broken Pencil, The Magazine of Zine Culture and the Independent Arts

"Echoes of Stephen King, Richard Matheson, and Clive Barker haunt the halls of Smith's work, but the end result is completely original, and always enthralling."

—Cory Redekop

"With every new story, the more impressed I am with [Smith's] subtlety and vision. I've yet to read a work of his that wasn't beautifully written, but more than that, his stories resonate with a deep understanding of the human condition as well as a characteristic wry wonder... Stories you can't forget, even years later."

Julie Czerneda, award-winning author and editor, SF Signal interview

"Douglas Smith is an extraordinary author whom every lover of quality speculative fiction should read."

Fantasy Book Critic

"Smith is definitely an author who deserves to be more widely read."

—Strange Horizons

"Sadly under read, Douglas Smith is deserving of an entire 'Science Fiction You Haven't Read…But Should' article all to his own, and you'll likely see it one day. "

—Digital Science Fiction

"An ambitious and adventurous new writer."

—Gardner Dozois, author and editor

"Smith is a master of beginnings … some of the most well-crafted hooks you'll find anywhere: deft introductions to the characters and their not-quite-familiar worlds packed into just a sentence or two that draw the reader in. As for the endings … Smith's tendency is to forego the shocking twist for endings that feel satisfying and right, a trade-off that I'll take any day."

—Canadian Science Fiction Reviews

THE LOST EXPEDITION (The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3) (Ordering Links | Back to Index)

"Editor's Pick: Smith powers to an explosive conclusion in the finale of his Dream Rider series, a lavishly concocted ride brimming with magic, mystery, and mayhem. Seventeen-year-old Will Dreycott is still struggling with feeling imprisoned in his Dream Rider Tower high above the streets of Toronto, and his girlfriend Case, though more connected to Will than ever, feels out of place in his wealthy world. While the two struggle to make sense of their superhuman powers—Will can astral project while he’s asleep, and Case’s inner Voice serves as a harbinger—they feel a desperate urge to uncover the truth behind their missing parents and decipher the secrets of the Chakana, a hard-won, strange relic somehow connected to their powers—and to Will’s life.

From there, their saga grows exponentially more dangerous—and hefty, as this concluding chapter is long, a novel for lovers of inventive fantasy-adventures to wallow in. With Case’s brother, Fader, who possesses superpowers in his own right, and Adi, the CEO for Will’s empire, the heroes must contend with Will’s growing powers but weakening health, in the midst of epic battles with rune-casting witches, supernatural beings that inhabit others’ bodies, and much more—Smith continually conjures surprises. At the heart of it all are Will and Case’s nagging suspicions that they’re “being moved like pieces on a board.”

The payoff for the group is worth it in the end, as they finally get the answers they’ve been searching for—about Case and Fader’s mother, the Chakana’s riddles, and surprising truths from Will’s own background. The road to those answers is decidedly rocky, bursting with dark magic, beastly protectors, and a slew of extraordinary fantasy characters—including a sinister presence whose roots can be traced back to Incan rule. Smith skillfully probes deeper messages behind all the fun, as the main players face the consequences of humankind’s disregard for the Earth—and each other. The series is best enjoyed when read in order.

Takeaway: Explosive conclusion to this spectacular fantasy joyride."

BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"When thinking about Douglas Smith’s Dream Rider Saga and The Lost Expedition in particular, the word epic kept bouncing around in my mind. The scope of the entire story, especially the last book, is huge and best enjoyed from the beginning. … The steps of the final journey (I can’t describe it any other way without giving away too much!) are intricate, perilous and exciting. This book is about a hundred pages longer than the previous two. It did feel longer, but no less thrilling. There was just more to love and more room to answer every question we had. …

In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear, I loved The Lost Expedition. … As the conclusion to the Dream Rider Saga, it exceeded every expectation. I enjoyed every minute I spent with these characters, and I will miss them now that their story is done."

Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Reviews

"The Lost Expedition put me in mind of A Wrinkle in Time. Both books … have the same sweeping scope that engages one’s sense of wonder. … Looking back as an adult, though, I far prefer Smith’s world building and politics to Madeleine L’Engle’s. Smith has written a series that is far more inclusive and far less elitist than L’Engle’s. Smith’s characters represent different social classes, ethnicities, abilities and weaknesses. The Dream Rider series is targeted to today’s modern YA audience and so better suited to current sensibilities. Whoever reads this book will find at least one POV character with whom they can identify.

The Lost Expedition is a solid ending to a great series. The various mysteries are finally revealed in all their intricate complexity; there are several twists I totally did not see coming; and there is a sweeping majesty to the world building we have not seen since—well, since A Wrinkle in Time. … If you haven’t done so already, you should package up all three volumes to gift to any young adults in your life—or any adult in your circle nostalgic for the Golden Age of science fiction fantasy."

Robert Runté, The Ottawa Review of Books

"Smith’s world-building and scene-setting are excellent; his characters are all well-drawn and believable; the dialogue is sharp, and there are plenty of twists and turns to the storyline. The reappearance of the witch Morrigan is a plus, and reporter Rani adds some welcome snark and humor. … Readers will surely enjoy Smith’s imagination and creativity."

— Blueink Review

THE CRYSTAL KEY (The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2) (Ordering Links | Back to Index)

"Editor's Pick: The richly inventive Dream Rider adventure continues in this second appealing entry, pushing the young heroes of Smith’s epic YA series to face new realms, old villains, wild dangers, and, most terrifying of all, the truths of their pasts. The facts of billionaire Toronto teen Will Dreycott’s life would fascinate even without all this entry’s new developments.

"In his white skyscraper, agoraphobic Will continues to wonder about his artifact-collecting parents, seemingly lost years ago on an expedition to Peru, and to travel the realm of Dream as the hero Dream Rider, whose adventures he has chronicled in wildly successful comic books. His girlfriend Case, a street kid looking for her own long-gone mother, has convinced him to open a hostel offering fresh starts to young people in need, but she’s chafing at feeling “kept” in a tower that Will himself can’t bring himself to leave.

"Smith deftly blends ongoing tensions between these characters…with an exciting plot… always enlivened by the Smith hallmarks of crack dialogue, fun sleuthing and puzzle-solving, a strong throughline of emotion, a swift pace…and a principled refusal to settle for the familiar.

"Be ready for memorable beasts, weird magic, and fantasy worlds that are truly fantastic… For all the wonders, though, the series is also compellingly engaged in Toronto street life and its characters’ very human hearts. New readers should start with book one.

Takeaway: This thrilling superpowered urban fantasy series continues to grip."

BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"The engrossing second installment of Douglas Smith's Dream Rider Saga trilogy… Smith continues to demonstrate an ability to expertly weave multiple complex fantasy elements into a cohesive whole. … With a measure of tension in the romance between Will and Case, the continued deepening mystery about events in the past, and the teens' growing supernatural abilities, this fast-paced story delivers in a big way—and Smith has all his ducks lined up for an explosive conclusion that readers won't want to miss."

Blueink Review (★ Starred review)

"The author’s sequel to the excellent The Hollow Boys (2022) ups the ante for adventure and suspense and continues to deftly fuse superhero and fantasy tropes. The trio of protagonists have relatable inner struggles and compelling story arcs that work well both independently and when woven into the overarching storyline of Will’s parents’ fateful expedition. Smith excels at strong action sequences, worldbuilding (introducing engaging new characters and the concept of the multiverse), and humorous dialogue. …There is plenty here to entice readers to return for the grand finale. A fun and engrossing superhero sequel."

Kirkus Reviews

"If you've already read The Hollow Boys, you don't need me to tell you to buy the sequel. … Smith surprised me again with The Crystal Key, tapping into my deep nostalgia for Saturday matinee serials. … Smith manages to update the genre with an ethnically diverse cast and strong female characters. Smith's take on superheroes and serials is both modern and original, but it recreates the same energy, the same yearning for superpowers, the same subconscious fear of dark places and boogeymen as the best stories of our own remembered youth. High adventure leavened with romance and mystery. … [Smith] keeps things moving at a fast clip. No spoilers, so all I can say about the plot is that it involves the multiverse, astral travel, ancient cults, hypnotic powers, criminal gangs, private mercenaries, romance, and betrayal. … Overall, great fun. While it is common for the middle of a novel, or the middle book of a trilogy, to drag a bit, that is definitely not the case here. The Crystal Key has everything that made The Hollow Boys work and turns it up a few notches. I can't wait for the conclusion in The Lost Expedition. "

Robert Runté, Ottawa Review of Books

"Douglas Smith's imagination and empathy are on full display. The Crystal Key is even more fast-paced than the first book [and] a compelling story. I found myself picking up The Crystal Key when I should have been doing something else and I finished the book in only two days. As before, I enjoyed Smith's characterisation, as Will, Case, and Fader continue to bond. I loved the humour that sparks between them… Will and Case's relationship continues to evolve. Case grows a lot in this book and I found myself liking her even more. Revelations toward the end promise more thrills ahead as Will continues to piece together what happened to his parents and, more importantly, what happened to him. Where did his power come from? For that matter, where did Case's Voice and Fader's Fading come from? Could their abilities be related in some way? I look forward to finding out."

Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest

THE HOLLOW BOYS (The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1) (Ordering Links | Back to Index)

2023 Aurora Award winner for Best Young Adult Novel
2023 Juried IAP Award winner for Best Young Adult Novel

"Editor's Pick: This arresting series kickoff from Smith (The Wolf at the End of the World) grips from the start as it introduces its inventive milieu, its flawed but fantastically powered hero, its playful worldbuilding, and a host of tantalizing mysteries. …

That's just the start of Smith's vigorously imaginative scenario. Complicating matters is Will's agoraphobia … a fascinating flaw, worthy of Marvel comics in the 1960s, a trait the deliciously detestable villains will of course exploit. Strange, often appealing creatures (like the delightful doogles) and characters fill out Will's world, and the Hollow Boys, Maras, Emojis, and other original dangers have a perfectly calibrated creepiness—they're deadly, and scenes of action and suspense thrum with tension, but the novel's still always fun.

Pacing and prose are tight despite the novel's generous length; the dialogue's crisp and engaging, and the reversals and revelations are cleverly plotted. Smith takes every advantage of his original dreamworld's possibilities, building to a satisfying ending with plenty of mystery left to explore.

Takeaway: Thrilling YA fantasy."

BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"Smith has created a dramatic, vivid fantasy world for his characters to inhabit. … The Hollow Boys is an assured, confident novel with strong world-building, sharp dialogue and the perfect balance between action and emotional growth for its main characters. Secondary characters, notably the witch Morrigan, are equally well-rounded. … In short, this is a must-read story for YA fantasy fans."

Blueink Review (★ Starred review)

"The Hollow Boys is inventive, engaging, and boundless fun. Teen zombies, Buddhist monks, SWAT teams, Raiders-of-the-Lost-Arc-style warehouses, corporate raiders, a (nonflying) magic carpet, and astral travel—what more could someone wish for? Smith manages to throw all these disparate elements at the story to form a truly cohesive universe in which to set his tale. The underlying—and unresolved—mystery of the missing parents works well, there are some nice character arcs and a charming YA romance subplot, and even though the epilogue makes it clear there's more to come, the ending of this episode is entirely satisfying. I enjoyed The Hollow Boys a great deal, turning pages long after I should have been abed. Smith has produced the best Canadian superhero adventure since James Alan Gardner's Dark vs. Spark novels. I trust we'll see much more of the Dream Rider Saga . . . and I can't wait for the movies."

Robert Runté, The Ottawa Review of Books

"Smith imbues this series opener with otherworldly intrigue, developing an elaborately layered plot via bouncy prose that capably shifts between the dream realm, with its monstrous inhabitants, and Will’s insular life. Depictions of close-knit relationships shine brightest throughout the novel, especially the familial bonds between Will and his parents and between Case and Fader, as well as the protagonists' budding romance."

Publishers Weekly

"A fast-paced and entertaining introduction to a new series. I've always enjoyed Smith's books and the characters in The Hollow Boys are further proof of why. They're rendered in more than three-dimensions, with the 'good guys' having their faults and even the villains having the odd tender spot … I enjoyed The Hollow Boys immensely… [and] was so pleased to have my opinion of Douglas Smith's work confirmed. He's a talented writer, equipped with two of my favourite traits: imagination and pathos. I look forward to continuing The Dream Rider Saga with The Crystal Key."

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest (5-star review)

"A multilayered fantasy that pays homage to familiar superhero tropes … while adding a nice dose of magic and mystery to the mix. The story is character-driven and richly developed … A fun supernatural tale with well-developed characters and a touch of romance."

—Kirkus Reviews

"A superbly crafted fantasy adventure … a fast-paced page-turner … [with] uniquely complex characters. The more the reader learns, the more the reader wants to learn. … [A] positively addictive epic fantasy in which it is possible for the reader to identify with all the characters, even the villains… To sum up, a pleasure to read."

—Amazing Stories

THE WOLF AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Ordering Links | Back to Index)

The Wolf at the End of the World cover"An immersive and enjoyable reading experience. Readers will delight in learning more about Native American mythology, which is skillfully woven throughout the story. Smith's novel is both well paced and deftly plotted—leaving readers curious about what comes next for the Heroka in the modern world."

Publishers Weekly, 2014

"What makes THE WOLF AT THE END OF THE WORLD such an engrossing read are the characters and Doug's wonderful prose, a perfect blend between matter-of-fact and lyricism. I can't remember the last time I read a book that spoke to me, so eloquently, and so deeply, on so many levels. ... I'll be rereading it in the future because it's that sort of book. Richly layered and deeply resonant. An old friend, from the first time you read it."

Charles de Lint, World Fantasy Award winner, 2013

"5 out of 5 stars. This book is excellent. The writing is tight and flows easily. Not too dissimilar to Charles de Lint. Smith is a wunderkind."

—Cody Deserranno, Librarian

"I don't read a lot of paranormal stuff. … There are some interpretations of lore I like, though, and some authors I will read, almost regardless of what the story is. Douglas Smith and his debut novel, The Wolf At The End Of The World, fill both criteria. … The last twenty pages were an emotional experience (read: messy), which is always what elevates a book from four to five stars for me. I love a story that hits all the emotional buttons from laughter to tears. When that happens, it goes without saying the writing is good and the story is engaging, the characters are deep enough to make me feel. …

"In his introduction, Charles de Lint touches on the same points and the same feeling. It's the interweaving of lore and ideas that gives this novel so much substance. … Given the number of awards Douglas has won for his short stories, it's hardly surprising he's written such a fabulous book and it's lovely to be able to say so, unreservedly. I really enjoyed 'The Wolf At The End Of The World' and I'm happy to have a copy to put on my shelf. With adventure, intrigue, shape-shifters, family, a touch of romance and a lot of heart, this is a book I'd recommend for readers of all genres."

Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest, October 2013

"Building on the world he created in previous short stories, Smith explores the Heroka—shapeshifting beings who can also control their totem animals—and their role in a world in which people's relationship to nature is out of balance. He also confronts the clash of cultures between the dominant Canadian (read: white) interests and the rights of First Nations peoples such as the Cree and Ojibwe—and how this plays out in environmental policy and control over resources. Aside from that, it's also a gripping urban fantasy in which a voracious monster is targeting the inhabitants of Thunder Lake, a small town in Ontario, and even the combined power of the Heroka and ancient spiritual powers may not be enough to solve the mystery of the killings—and avert the end of the world."

David Jon Fuller, writer/editor, October 2013

"The Wolf at the End of the World is a tale that would resonate with the spirit of any environmentalist – the struggle of diverse species to survive, the conflict with human greed and capitalism, the invasiveness of the human presence on animal life…

As he often does, Douglas wields myth … to reveal truths that we ignore in our mundane world and teaches complexity through the poetics of language and potentials of symbols. Smith's work, as always, is full of potent ambiguities, the moral questions that fill us with the potential to interrogate our world and challenge the assumptions that have become part of living our lives. He does this through beautiful prose and an exciting and powerful story.

Smith tackles issues of huge importance for our understanding of modernity … The reader is carried along on this mythic tale, taught the potential of stories to challenge us and make us more aware."

— Derek Newman-Stille, award winning speculative fiction scholar, August 2013

"An excellent debut novel. … Modern controversy over aboriginal land claims is mixed with a romantic embellishment of ancient stories. … Staccato pacing and multiple POVs with a hook at the end of each short segment [keeps] the energy level perpetually high."

— Steve Stanton, The 49th Shelf–Recommended Reads, April 2014

"As with the finest of urban fantasy, the collision of magic and reality works wonders, resulting in an entertaining fantasy that respects our legends even as it subverts them. … Smith guides his adventure with a firm hand, doesn't skimp on the gore and horror, and leaves the reader (or me, anyway) hoping for further Heroka stories down the road.

— Cory Redekop, Feb 2014

"A fabulous book...a thriller, an urban fantasy, and definitely mythic."

— Mythic Writers, October 2013

CHIMERASCOPE (Ordering Links | Back to Index)

Finalist for Sunburst Award, Aurora Award, CBC Bookies Award

"...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

"A creative hybrid of diverse genres of the fantastic … Smith approaches issues as complex as addiction, colonialism, the point between pain and pleasure, militarism, violence, art and mass consumption, vulnerability and love, the construction of reality, and ideas of urban safety. … One of the most impressive things about this collection are Smith's introductions to the short stories. It is incredible to see an author who is so able to analyse himself and explore the dark reaches of the mind that give birth to speculations and eventual narratives. His interest in his own psychological process, in the bizarre mixing of ideas where stories are born is conveyed into the mental processes of his characters, their complex minds and personal quirks that make them likeable. His characters are psychologically deep and illustrate a complexity of the soul… They are not 'easy' characters, and Smith resists simplifying them for his reader. … I couldn't point out what binds the stories together, but they seem bound in their ability to be unquantifiable, able to challenge barriers and evoke powerful questions that send the reader into contemplation about social issues, the human experience, and the nature of questions themselves."

Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada, October 2012

"Chimerascope confirms for me what Impossibilia affirmed, namely that Douglas Smith is an extraordinary author whom every lover of quality speculative fiction should read. Rating: A+"

Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"Smith's voice proves one of the more endearing features of this sampling of his work, which holds true even in his individual story prefaces—an authorial vice that can be distracting, but in Smith's hands remains charming. ... Throughout Smith shows a real gift for truly "cinematic" description...with arrestingly inventive premises in a field where really interesting new ideas are harder and harder to find. ... [Chimerascope] speaks volumes of his range and future potential. ... Smith is definitely an author who deserves to be more widely read."

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

"This collection contains a beautifully diverse selection of short tales that runs the full spectrum of the speculative genres. The tales are well-crafted, easily digestible; several of the stories are incredibly moving and stick with the reader long after. The wide range of stylistic approaches works well together."

—2011 Sunburst Award jury, June 2011

"A superb collection... Spanning a wide spectrum of classic sci-fi, stories inspired by mythology, and post-apocalyptic fiction, this is a collection you'll want to own and re-read. ... It's a complex mix: one of the many reasons this collection succeeds so powerfully."

—Ideomancer Magazine, Sept 2010

"An absolutely stunning short story collection of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, one of the best I've ever read."

— Corey Redekop, award-winning author of Shelf Monkey, Sep 2010

"[T]here is not only something here for everyone, but something good for everyone, as Smith consistently displays his comfort and competence, working within multiple genres. ... Smith's characters tend towards regular men and women caught in desperate situations, often fallible, sometimes likable, but always portrayed with, if not sympathy, then enough clarity that the reader may understand why the characters behave as they do. ... Ultimately, genre fans eager to read work by a talented author, who consistently writes top-notch prose, will be well-pleased to see the strange beasts lurking within Douglas Smith's Chimerascope."

— Innsmouth Free Press, Jan 2011

"This collection was impossible to put down. This contains one of the best collections of speculative fiction I have ever read. There is a reason that the majority of these stories have won awards and nominations. Smith is absolutely brilliant as he proves SF is every bit as intelligent and thought-provoking as any literary work out there."

— Sleepless eReader, Jan 2011

"I found Smith to be an especially talented storyteller. His characters ring true, and he creatively crafts worlds and situations that I found haunted my thoughts long after I had finished reading."

—Fluidity of Time, June 2010

"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. ... 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."

—Terry Grignon, Golbing book reviews, March 2011

"...showcases his talent and his prolificacy. ... I remain in awe of the range of writing he has produced, and how often his stories have merited award nominations or received awards."

—Bureau 42, Feb 2011

"Smith is a master of beginnings … some of the most well-crafted hooks you'll find anywhere: deft introductions to the characters and their not-quite-familiar worlds packed into just a sentence or two that draw the reader in. As for the endings … Smith's tendency is to forego the shocking twist for endings that feel satisfying and right, a trade-off that I'll take any day. … Reading Smith's stories is like taking a series of guided tours through strange places. … Chimerascope delivers that in spades and is well worth the price of admission."

—Canadian Science Fiction Review, 2011

"A collection that I would highly recommend."

—Justine Lekowicz, News Talk Radio 1010, Bookend Reviews, 2012

"Short stories are an art unto themselves and when I find an author who masters that art, particularly in speculative fiction, I pounce. Douglas Smith can consider himself pounced. Chimerascope…enchants, horrifies, enlightens, and mesmerizes. Through each tale, no matter the tone or subject, Smith connects the reader instantly with his characters and they are as unforgettable as they are diverse. … these characters step off the pages and become real. … Another of Smith's strengths is structure. I'm in awe of his ability to choose just the right voice, POV, and timelines for his stories. He includes enough details to show the reader the depth of each world without bogging down the story in description. No matter how short the story, their worlds feel fully formed. … If you love speculative fiction, short stories, and masterful storytelling, Chimerascope needs to be on your bookshelf.

—Kristene Perron, Warpworld fiction reviews, August 2013

IMPOSSIBILIA (Ordering links | Back to Index)

Aurora Award Finalist

"Rarely have I seen such an apt title to any book! Douglas Smith has given us three amazing stories that are so unusual and beautiful that no other name than Impossibilia could possibly describe this collection. Each tale was rapture and ecstasy, magical and mysterious, perfect and implausible. In short, I loved them all from the first word to the last. ... I don't know what else to say without spoiling things for you so I won't say anything else, except READ THIS BOOK!!!"

— Jim Dodge Jr., Mass Movement Magazine, May 2009

"The three stories collected in 'Impossibilia' are very different, covering almost the entire range of speculative genres. The writing is superb. Douglas Smith is an artisan and his stories beautifully crafted. ... In my search for the perfect short story, the three in this volume certainly qualify."

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Book Reviews, January 2009

"Both thematically and stylistically, these stories sometimes recall the work of better known authors, including Harlan Ellison, Theodore Sturgeon, and Ray Bradbury. But Smith puts such a personal stamp on his stories, and invests them with such depth of feeling, that they transcend the dangers of … imitation and emerge as wholly original. … There is a certain exhilaration that comes from reading the book's complex and powerfully emotional stories couched in that deft and smooth prose. It is easy to see why PS Publishing considers Smith an author who deserves more attention. … [Smith deserves] to be known to by a very wide audience indeed."

—Matt Cardin, Dead Reckonings review magazine, No. 5, Spring 2009

"Highly, highly recommended."

—Liviu Suciu, Fantasy Book Critic, April 2009

"Impossibilia is a treasure to be savoured, like gourmet chocolates and fine wine. It includes three superb stories…each beautifully written and wondrously imagined. It took me several days to get through this book. Not because it is in any way difficult to read--far from it and quite the opposite: the stories in this collection are so wonderful, I wanted to take time to digest and enjoy each and every one."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

"The stories in this collection reach from van Gogh's rural France to the classic travelling fair to the far lost forest, and from timeshift to shapeshift to the activity of luck. That's range, or at least a glimpse of range, in the grand manner that harks back to Bradbury and Sturgeon and Ellison"

Chaz Brenchley, award-winning UK writer, November 2008

"Each story [in Impossibilia] is unique and different, showcasing a different aspect of Douglas Smith's talent. [...] A fun romp that delivered something different [with] stories that are exhilarating, enjoyable, and well above competence."

Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker - Speculative Fiction Reviews, Dec 2008

"A book that ably demonstrates what Smith is capable of as a writer, added to which, anyone who references Springsteen songs in their titles is going to get the thumbs up from me."

— Peter Tennant, Black Static Magazine, March 2009

"In his elegant and perceptive introduction to this latest showcase collection from PS Publishing, Chaz Brenchley reminds us that 'the proper focus of a story, any story, lies in the characters that inhabit it.' In the three novelettes that comprise Impossibilia, Douglas Smith [lays] bare the psychological and emotional fragility that motivates his characters."

— Mike O'Driscoll, The Fix, December 2008

"Aptly named, Impossiblilia introduces the reader to Douglas Smith's magical reality where the impossible is readily accepted as normal. ... [The] three letter perfect stories behind the expressionist cover art admirably display Mr. Smith's considerable creativity."

— Kent Knopp-Schwyn, Hellnotes, September 2009

“Stories with hope are stories I need. ... I would very cheerfully read more stories by this author. ... Worth reading: definitely.”

—The International Review of Science Fiction, #106, Summer 2009

"A wonderful book...Each [story] is an example of how a master at the art tells a story... Impossibilia is an amazing little collection.

Erik Buchanan, writer, April 2009

Click on a title to read the reviews of the individual stories in Impossibilia:

Bouquet of Flower in a Vase, by Van Gogh
Spirit Dance
Going Down to Lucky Town

PLAYING THE SHORT GAME: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction (2nd edition) (Ordering links | Back to Index)

"Doug has gone through this new volume carefully, updating every possible detail. That makes the second edition as indispensable to the short fiction writer as the first. … Lots of writers write good books on craft. Few have the experience to write good books on the publishing business. Doug is one of those few, and this book shows it."

—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, multi-award-winning author and editor, Feb 2024

"Doug wrote an indispensible book for those of us who love to write short fiction. He includes indie publishing, and a lot of traditional publishing tips. ... [Doug is] one of the best short story writers in the business, and one of the best at the business of short story writing. I learned a few things from this book, and sometimes I think I've seen it all. So, if you have any interest in writing short fiction, or you're already making a living a short fiction, take a peek at this book. It's wonderful."

—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, award-winning author and editor, Sept 2014

"I can't tell you what you should write. That's entirely up to you. But if you are the least bit interested in having a career as a fiction writer then I can tell you what to read: Douglas Smith's Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction. From now on this is my go-to book for all things related to starting and maintaining my fiction writing career."

—Filip Wiltgren, writer and game designer, Aug 2015


“If I Should Fall Behind” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

“The main character…has the ability to shift into alternate realities. He uses this power in order to escape mysterious pursuers out to kill him and the woman he loves. His ability threatens the stability of all universes, forcing him to make a terrible decision. The story has great emotional appeal and the plight of the two lovers is sure to touch the reader’s heart. … [A] powerful tale.”


“It’s a tale of a teenager with the ability to see possible futures, using it mostly to keep himself and his lover one step ahead of the mysterious forces that have pursued them since his ability first manifested at a summer camp years before. The premise is interesting enough, but the narrative voice is absolutely outstanding and takes the story from fun and entertaining to one of my very favorites of the year. I mean, just check this out:

A three-times-tried, three-times-died fear screamed in his brain. He booted that fear away so he could memorize his death scene before this chance branch slid into the never-will-be. Memorize. Brain camera. Click.

… [The ending’s] an emotionally satisfying cap on a tremendous tale, a tale which itself is a tremendous cap on the September/October issue of F&SF.”

Tar Vol’s Reviews

“This tale of a teenager with the ability to see possible futures is all about the narrative voice, with an idiosyncratic but compelling prose style that puts the reader right in the lead’s head. The plot…is well-done, and the conclusion is satisfying, but the voice is what makes this one exceptional.”

Tar Vol’s 2023 Recommended Reading List: Holiday Edition

“The Trolley Problem becomes even more problematic when it is the whole universe on the track and the love of your life on the siding, but our hero finds a rather unique solution.”

Michael Frasca

“An interesting and moving story of a boy and girl running away from Chasers who want to kill them.”

Soh Kam Yung, Iridescent Book Reviews, New Zealand

“Oregon Shooters” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

“An unlicensed private eye is upset two people died while eating his favourite snack. He decides to help the restaurant owner out, since the authorities seem in no hurry. Odd, seemingly unconnected details begin to pile up. Then things get weird, really weird. The villain turns out to be barely credible, yet utterly plausible given the SF context. I found this story quite entertaining. … Can this be the real reason H.P. Lovecraft was so terrified of sea food? I like to think so. Have the feeling he would wholeheartedly approve.”

—R. Graeme Cameron, Amazing Stories

“Gypsy Biker's Coming Home” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

“[T]his remarkable story combines the concept of computer-infested brains with drone warfare. … [T]en widows hatch a plot to take revenge on those most directly responsible for the deaths of their husbands. … [W]hat I particularly appreciate are all the subtle touches which make this horrible potential future credible and realistic… This story works on every level. Powerful and thought-provoking.”

—R. Graeme Cameron, Amazing Stories

“The Balance” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"This story is harrowing in its authenticity. In that sense it is hard on the reader. Yet, as an exploration of every parent's worst nightmare, both educational and profoundly moving. I truly believe reading this will in some small way help people to be better parents, or, at the very least, remind parents what miracles their children truly are. This might be a useful story to place in a high school anthology, if only to allow teenagers to understand just how traumatic and difficult life can be for parents. Perhaps that's a lost cause. Nobody understands parenting till they've become parents. But this is one hell of a glimpse for the uninitiated. Powerful story."

—R. Graeme Cameron, Amazing Stories

“Nothing” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"...short and dark. An effective mood piece which uses words playfully to create horror. "

—Rainbow Dragon Recommends

“Fiddleheads” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

" …about every parent's worst nightmare. This was a gripping tale and goes to show that not only parents suffer when a child goes missing and how it can warp a child."

—Bitten By Books, Nov 2013

"Deeply disturbing."

The Nameless Zine, Nov 2013

“The Walker of the Shifting Borderland” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"This story is beautiful. The prose is inspired, but not overly poetic; the characters are fabulous, but not caricatured; the setting and pacing are fanciful, but not forced. Everything flows as it should. Even time and space. I wish I had written it."

Coriander Pause, Dec 2013

"A very different sort of tale. ... A cosmic story of gods which seems to be inspired by the works of Michael Moorcock, and I think he would not be ashamed of it."

SF Crowsnest Reviews, Feb 2013

"A tale of epic love when a mortal gets caught between a battle of the gods. Smith reminds us that we have the potential to change the world around us and that self-sacrifice can be a means of making the world around us better."

Speculating Canada, Dec 2012

"The descriptions here have cosmic sweep…"

— Locus Online, Dec 2012

“Dream Flight” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"The story is about the Hoyl, the Crystal Angel of the Heroka, who in her human form is merely Lilith Hoyl. She has flown too long, and landed hard on the roof of a children's hospital. Through the eyes and mind of a dove, she sees and befriends a sick girl who, against all odds, is able to hear her and understand her nature. One expects magic with this set-up, and magic does, indeed, follow, but pain cannot be forever vanquished, for either the girl or the Hoyl. The story charms as well as pains. In other hands, it would be mawkish, but Smith avoids all the pitfalls and gives us something bittersweet instead.."

Terry Weyna, Fantasy Literature, March 2015

“A Bird in the Hand” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2002 Aurora Award Finalist

"...begins with a woman being held in a super-secret government laboratory. ... It's a very interesting turn-around story, in which our expectations are upended at the last minute. ...a good read, and sadly, far too relevant to our own present world."

The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf, July 2010

"...has a woman fed chemicals to prove whether she's human or a shape-shifter, which is also rather harrowing but well worth reading to see where it will end."

— SF Crowsnest Reviews, Jan 2011

"...great fun to read"

—Dreams and Speculations, July 2010

"This story has a nice twist and a sad overtone"

Pia Newman, Apr 2012

“Doorways” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2009 Aurora Award Finalist

"A couple months ago I was introduced to Douglas Smith by way of his collected short stories, Impossibilia. So I was looking forward to his story 'Doorways' and was not disappointed. ... This story has a cunningly satisfying conclusion. I find a good short story falls into two categories: There is the complete story, the novel miniaturised, which is a nearly perfect art form. These are hard to capture but constantly illustrated by such writers as Douglas Smith."

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Book Reviews, March 2009

"...'Doorways' is based on an interesting concept … The puzzles [in the story] and the final invention that they hint at are intriguing … Smith ties [the story's] denouement's metaphorical significance in well with the technological concept at the center of the plot."

—Val Grimm, The Fix, April 2009

“Radio Nowhere” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2010 Aurora Award Finalist

" favorite story in the book. ... I really liked [Smith's] writing style. I loved the story too. ... It's a touching story, but it's a little creepy too."

—Goodreads reviews

"A very human story of a man hung up on the past for far too long, and a woman who can't make him realize her true feelings. ... The resolution is a key moment of personal growth for our protagonist, and that's really what I ask for in a story."

— Scientifically Bookish

"This is a great story, that connects [the reader} with the emotional pain and trauma [of the characters]."

— Contemplating the Cosmos

"The story I liked best from this anthology. ... "Radio Nowwhere" carried a great melancholic sense of guilt and loss. It's a great story."

— Nick Matthews

“Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, by Van Gogh” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
IMPOSSIBILIA, collection, Nov 2008
2009 Aurora Award Finalist

"the pièce de résistance of the collection and one of the best and most moving novellas I have read in a while. Haunting and evocative... Just astounding. ..."

—Liviu Suciu, Fantasy Book Critic, April 2009

"'Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, by Van Gogh' is an important story, a story that matters, and I hope that many, many people will read it. … While all three stories [in Impossibilia] showcase admirably Doug's impressive mastery of the short story form, 'Bouquet' stands out as the jewel in the crown … a beautifully written, brilliantly crafted story in which Smith raises the bar even higher than his previous works. Doug's characteristic vivid settings and compelling characters are present, driven, as always, by love, and by a mystery which keeps the pages turning as the reader is drawn ever deeper. 'Bouquet' is a story which begins in tragedy but, ultimately, ends in hope. Don't miss this one!"

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

"This is one of those heady and ambitious stories that throw so many different elements into the narrative mix that one wonders whether the author is going to be able to pull it off. In fact, Smith does so very skillfully, so that the plot arc, character development, and denouement come off feeling effortless and elegant, and quite satisfying."

—Matt Cardin, Dead Reckonings review magazine, No. 5, Spring 2009

"…a beautiful and haunting tale of love, loss and remote viewing. "

—Kent Knopp-Schwyn, Hellnotes, Sept 2009

"Maroch, an ex-agent of 'The Company' assists a new protégée, Laure, in the process of remote locate lost paintings by Vincent Van Gogh...but setting off a chain of events that will affect the future. The revolution of themes and words is very fluid throughout this story, making the pace almost rhythmic, drawing you along... The ending is a perfect resolution of the paradox of backward time travel."

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Book Reviews, January 2009

"...the strongest piece for me... What makes it compelling is the mystery surrounding the protagonist and Smith makes use of flashbacks effectively. This is an easy read and throughout the narrative, the author manages to sustain the suspense as he perpetually hints at something larger. Characterization, foreshadowing, and even action--Smith has it down pat with this story."

—Charles Tan, Bibilophile Stalker - Speculative Fiction Reviews, December 2008

"... has a thread of redemption in it that impressed me with its magnificence. If you're human at all, you will be moved by 'Bouquet of Flowers…'."

— Jim Dodge Jr., Mass Movement Magazine, May 2009

"[Smith delivers] a convincingly rendered portrait of a man struggling to maintain his psychic equilibrium in the face of powerful and destructive emotional forces. ... Right up to the story’s surprising conclusion, Smith keeps his readers guessing ... It’s an ending that shouldn’t work but somehow does, and it’s a testament to the writer’s skill that their fate seems entirely fitting. "

—Mike O'Driscoll, The Fix, December 2008

"A clever story and a moving one, with the character of the two leads put over well, and the ghosts that haunt them brought to effective life on the page. Smith is adept at tying together the different plot strands and filling in people’s back story in a way that doesn’t interrupt the narrative flow."

— Peter Tennant, Black Static Magazine, March 2009

"[A story that] follows two paths...a love affair that hits the rocks of the characters' messed-up pasts, and a scary new wrinkle on [remote viewing]."

—Rich Horton, Locus, Jan 2009

“Going Down to Lucky Town” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
IMPOSSIBILIA, collection, Nov 2008

"There are echoes of Ellison again, and of Ray Bradbury, in this understated and deeply moving tale of a con artist who stumbles across an opportunity to right some of the wrongs of his past. ...a deceptively simple narrative of luck, loss, betrayal, and redemption. [The father / daughter interaction] is handled with honesty and a real understanding of the complexity of a relationship between two individuals"

—Mike O'Driscoll, The Fix, December 2008

"...a very moving story about a part time gambler, part time con-man who seems to have gotten down luck to a measurable skill. ... Another superb story that made this volume such an unforgettable one for me."

—Liviu Suciu, Fantasy Book Critic, April 2009

"...packs a powerful emotional punch."

—Matt Cardin, Dead Reckonings review magazine, No. 5, Spring 2009

"Another great story, but I'm getting used to that. Deft handling of character and setting (gambling, cons and the game of life)..."

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Book Reviews, January 2009

"...a bittersweet story about a conman with the talent to detect luck. [...] The plot is wound up and then discharged with nicely inevitable narrative logic."

—Rich Horton, Locus, Jan 2009

"Smith takes a simple idea and finds potential that many other writers would have overlooked in favour of some easier option. At the story’s heart is the relationship between father and daughter, and the things they do to make this work, rendered with a singular care and tenderness, the appreciation that sometimes we muck up without meaning to and that sacrifices are required."

— Peter Tennant - Black Static Magazine, March 2009

"... the coup-de-grace of this triumvirate of wondrousness [Impossibilia]."

— Jim Dodge Jr., Mass Movement Magazine, May 2009

"...again showcases something different on the part of Smith. This is very much a con story and the author succeeds in accomplishing his goals at the same time injecting it with speculative elements. The set-up was handled judiciously and the ending delivered on the goods. This piece caters to a sub-genre (or a combination of two disassociated genres) that's neglected in my opinion but Smith does it justice and gives it the proper treatment it deserves."

—Charles Tan, Bibilophile Stalker - Speculative Fiction Reviews, December 2008

"…[an] enjoyable tale filled with broken and repaired familial ties bound together by a father's love for his daughter."

—Kent Knopp-Schwyn, Hellnotes, September 2009

"The Dancer at the Red Door" (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2008 Aurora Award Finalist

"The Dancer at the Red Door," with its mix of oblique horror, urban fantasy, and monsters ... recalls British horror novelist Clive Barker at his most disturbingly fanciful."

— Quill and Quire, Mar 2010

"[an] excellent story … urban fantasy at its best."

— Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"...intriguing meditation on escapism...evoking Gaiman's Neverwhere, the obligatory helping of Lovecraft, plus a touch of something like Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut"

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

"Just as the song of the city leads [the protagonist] throughout his journey, so too does it lead the reader throughout Douglas Smith's beautifully crafted 'The Dancer at the Red Door.' The writing is lean and evocative; every element of the story works double-time as setting informs character, action creates mood, and nothing is superflous. The song becomes a living, breathing creature which, more so than hearing, I could feel viscerally as I read Doug's wonderful story. Highly, highly recommended."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends

"Evocative imagery."

—Canadian Science Fiction Review, 2011

"The premise of this enjoyable anthology is that covert groups working behind the scenes influence and even cause major events to happen. ...these are exciting tales whether they have the Freemasons pulling strings, the Scoria changing their existence, the Dancer in Toronto or elves warring in London [in] this fine compilation."

— Harriet Klausner

“Out of the Light” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"A creature-hunter tale that kept me guessing until the very last paragraphs. I was on edge throughout the whole story!”

—Melissa Minners, Global Pop Culture reviews, September 2007

"A police officer skilled in hunting supernatural entities encounters a new breed of shape-shifter specifically adapted to the urban environment."

— Innsmouth Free Press, Jan 2011

“As is usually the case with most anthologies, some stories are better than others…and a few stood out. My personal favorites were 'Out of the Light' by Douglas Smith…”

— Ty Johnston, writer

“Murphy's Law” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"Douglas Smith showcases his talent for creating strong characters who are believable and sympathetic -- even when they inhabit an absurd world. That world is painted vividly with efficient brush strokes as Smith expertly weaves between Murphy's misadventures on board the Fiscal Restraint and Dex's retelling of the same to his captive audience at The House Limit. 'Murphy's Law' is a hilarious, yet poignant read."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

“A Taste Sweet and Salty” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"...absolutely masterful...a kind of much, much creepier Quantum Leap: the amnesiac protagonist awakes in a new body each morning only to die in it by nightfall. His dejected wanderings around the same isolated, inescapable village capture the infinite despair of living a fixed, fated life in a finite world, and his final attempt to break the cycle proves much more morally complex than it first appears."

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

"Another superb story … unpredictable and with a great ending, this story is another highlight of the [Chimerascope] collection (A++)."

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"...wonderful...has a taste that lingers...”

— Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest, Sept 2010

"A charming tale about a man cursed to die every day and be reborn as someone else.”

—Sam Tomaino, SFRevu, July 2006

"A fascinating fabulist premise...”

—Lois Tilton, Internet Review of SF, August 2006

“The Last Ride” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

“…exemplifies the best elements of Douglas Smith's writing. A Valkyrie falls for her hero, gives up her immortality for him then has to make that inevitable and awful choice afterwards. As always, even for such a brief time, there is so much life in these characters. I don't bother to marvel at how quickly I come to care for Douglas Smith's people anymore, it's a given. ”

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Reviews, Sept 2010

“A gripping portrayal of Vaya, a Valkyrie, and the ultimate sacrifices one makes for love.”

—Kat Bittner, SFRevu, July 2006

“[Smith] gives his protagonist a choice to make that matters, one that will resonate with [readers]”

—Bureau 42, February 2011

“Memories of the Dead Man” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"All that you want in a sf short story is here from powerful characters, to action, mysterious happenings and a dark, violent but excellent tale. … A bittersweet ending adds to the power of the story. (A++)"

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"...again shows off Smith's flair for the cinematic, and the story would at least make a much better film than, say, last January's The Book of Eli or any number of other recent Hollywood apocalypses. In his preface to the story, Smith announces his plan to write a novel about the Dead Man...I do look forward to reading it."

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

"Memories of the Dead Man," has echoes of Stephen King wandering about its post-apocalyptic narrative."

— Quill and Quire, Mar 2010

"...a wonderful example of the places this author is unafraid to go."

— Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Reviews, Sept 2010

“…would make a great movie…a unique, post-apocalyptic blend of The Road Warrior and X-Men. Mary and her son, Jase, live in a world transformed by plague... Fleeing from some angry locals, they are befriended by a mysterious telekinetic named Bishop. ... It was very well done, and I could see Smith expanding on this world in further stories or maybe even a novel... Bishop's powers are well thought-out and explained, and Mary is a sympathetic and effective narrator. Smith's offering is one of this issue's strongest stories.”

—James Palmer, Tangent Online, Apr 2006

“A post-apocalyptic story about survival and the means by which you need to insure it. I liked the style and subtleties of the storytelling that kept me firmly on the edge of my seat. .… The characters were what really impressed me, though--by a few lines into meeting each one you had a clear and definable presence in your mind.”

—Donna Jones, SF Crowsnest Reviews, May 2006

"A captivating character portrait."

—Canadian Science Fiction Review, 2011

“Going Harvey in the Big House” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2006 Aurora Award Finalist

"I first read this story in a workshop nearly a decade ago. Since then, Doug sold it to a number of different markets and it was a finalist for Canada's prestigious Aurora Award. Now it's out in e-book format. I read a lot, as you can tell, and I don't remember most stories the next day, let alone decades later. The images and the power of the story have stayed with me all this time. That's one of the strongest recommendations I can give."

—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Recommended Reading List, Aug 2011

“Hands down, my favourite story … I've always been fascinated by the concept of a city that encompasses what we know of the known world. … Smith's version, the 'House,' is well conceived, but as always, it's his characters that drive the story. Big G is pitch perfect. Every aspect of his personality is just spot on. Though he's not a completely accessible character, portrayed as being not as intelligent as a more usual protagonist, he is completely there and three-dimensional and his reactions and motivations are plausible. It works! The ending is just right. It couldn't have been any other way...”

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Reviews, Sept 2010

"The story features a memorable protagonist. Many readers will not find him terribly sympathetic, but his motives make perfect sense. We understand the choices he makes, and that makes the conclusion all the more tragic."

—Bureau 42, Feb 2011

"Going Harvey in the Big House" fed into my natural fears, suspicions and all-round disillusionment with authority. Thereafter, I began an inquiry. I read Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Zamyatin’s We, Huxley’s Brave New World… "Going Harvey in the Big House" led me to places I thought I’d never be, culminating eventually in sweat-soaked nightmares about a post-apocalyptic world."

—Tracey Schoenle, Senior Editor, Cicada, Jan 2005

“Enlightenment” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2005 Aurora Award Finalist

"’Enlightenment’ reaches far past the muddled mediocrity of swashbuckling tales forgotten before the page is turned to the next story. I enjoyed the alien anthropology and the details are tremendous…in this tale of tremendous sacrifice”

—Alan Latimore, Tangent Online, Feb 2005

“My favourite of the selection was 'Enlightenment' by Douglas Smith. A strange story indeed about Earth people engaged in strip-mining planets and relocating indigenous populations. ... The end is horrific in many respects but it's also thought-provoking.”

—Rod MacDonald, SF Crowsnest Reviews

“’Enlightenment’ [tells of] a spiritual undertaking by a member of a brutal planetary occupation force who “goes native” in which Douglas Smith provides a riff on Ray Bradbury's famous rationale of space travel: for Man to find God in the cosmos. ...[a] science fictional depiction of the mistreatment of “aliens” to subvertly criticize the atrocities of imperialist colonization.”

—David Soyka, SF Site, Nov 2004

"... unexpected twists and a superb ending; the story is as powerful as any in the [Chimerascope] collection (A++)"

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

“Douglas Smith…succeeds in evoking an alien society with mythic/religious overtones in his moving tale.”

—Ian Sherred, New Hope International Review Online, Jan 2005

“Another strong story, looking at humanity's treatment of indigenous people.”

—Mark Watson, Best SF, Oct 2004

“...oppressed inhabitants of distant worlds making the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring mankind back to the realisation of what right and wrong truly mean.”

—Sue Phillips, Whispers of Wickedness reviews, Nov 2004

“Nicely judged depictions of alien customs…”

—Martin Lewis, SF Site, Oct 2004

“...features some interesting fauna, an intriguing society, and a well-paced plot”

—Bureau 42, Feb 2011

“...was my favourite of the issue. ‘Enlightenment’ went exactly where I expected it to, but that was where I wanted it to go--I was there for the ride” “Stories [were] great, particularly ‘Enlightenment.’ [I] was just engrossed in the whole thing...and applaud it thoroughly!” “…just blew me away…I was taken away by the lovely prose.” “...provoked some really interesting ideas…” “…mind-blowing…”

—InterZone readers forum

“Jigsaw” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2005 Aurora Award Finalist

"...a fun romp involving aliens and continental drift."

—Publishers Weekly, Jan 2010

"...reawakened the child in me who loved to watch Star Trek characters solve the problems of mysterious races on faraway worlds. It's a nicely done puzzle-story, with a clever solution..."

—Nancy Fulda, February 2008

“A clever story whose protagonist is as reliant on her innate curiosity and fondness for puzzles as her intelligence. It provides added depth that one can miss in short fiction. 'Jigsaw' also examines the reactions of people dependent upon technology utterly alien to them. Some crew members fully embrace it, others are more cautious, even bordering on being xenophobic. It's an interesting interplay with regard to how the characters view their mission.”

—Michael Fay, Tangent Online, October 2005

"…reads very, very well in the traditional derring-do of sf adventures … shows the scope of the author's range and another favorite of mine [in Chimerascope] (A+)"

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"5 stars. A short story gem. Although this short story was designed for young readers, I found it very interesting on an adult level. ... I love his writing style. The female lead character was intelligent and resourceful, and surprisingly well developed. ... The author intended to create a story that demonstrated techtonic plate movement for young readers, and he did a wonderful job. I hope he keeps writing about wormships and the ancient race who developed them. I'll watch for more."

—Diane Rapp, Quicksilver Book Reviews, Jan 2012

"A space opera beauty. … The story is a lot of fun, with rollicking adventure and a nice, neat conclusion that had me aching to read more from Douglas Smith."

—Luke Forney, Digital Science Fiction, May 2012

“A darkly amusing look at what can go wrong when humans use alien technology they don't fully understand”

—Elizabeth Barrette, infinityplus, July 2004

“Fast-paced...with a clever puzzle.”

—Sherwood Smith, Tangent Online, July 2004

“Symphony” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2000 Aurora Award Finalist

“There are two stories in “Symphony”...both converge in a spectacular, explosive finale. Smith's prose is poetic and evocative. He creates an intricate fabric of light, color, and sound with effortless flair. The story’s fluid style and the abundance of complex, wrenching emotions [make this] another recommended story in this issue.”

—Eugie Foster and Marsha Sisolak, Tangent Online, March 2004

"A strong sfnal story about a 'sentient light symphony' that objects to humans colonizing 'its planet.' How would you communicate with such and how would it react to a baby who lacks all 'human baggage' are some of the issues addressed here. (A+)"

Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"...a moving story in which Douglas Smith showcases his talent for mirroring the epic struggles of humanity in the reflecting pool of intimate, personal experience."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

“Scream Angel” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention

“...the book’s most skillfully crafted story…a multi-layered tale about a circus that features a pair of angels who have the ability to produce a drug that produces pleasure based on intensity of emotion. Factor in that the owner of the circus is in love with one of the angels as well as addicted to the drug she produces, and the story quickly becomes one that holds the reader’s attention until the very end.”

—SpecFicWorld, August 2003

“Smith describes a disturbingly plausible military application for the narcotic ... The basic concept behind the drug strikes me as one of those rare ideas that seems at once so perfect and so natural that someone must have come up with it before; but if someone has, I haven't heard about it, and regardless Smith exploits the potential of the idea extraordinarily well here.”

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

“...remind[ed] me of the reasons I love the author's writing, his characterisation, attention to detail and recurring themes of love, faith and redemption.”

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Reviews, Sept 2010

"A feat of alchemy."

—Canadian Science Fiction Reviews, 2011

“The short story is a very difficult form to master... Smith has mastered it… hold on a moment while I shake an angry, envious fist at him.: *shakes angry fist* ... I finished this story with a giant case of writer's envy. In a short space, Smith lays out layers of love and redemption, and forces the reader to examine how one man can be both good and evil. Highlights: Creative premise that's super scary to contemplate. Not your average love story (understatement). Plethora of themes. Questions linger long after the end. ”

—Kristene Perron, 2013

“The story has so many layers that I'm still sorting them out. And like an onion, I'm not sure if I'll ever find the final layer.”

—Jim Reichert, Tangent Online, September 2003

"A dark and powerful story with a first line that sets the tone for what is to come: 'They stopped beating Trelayne when they saw that he enjoyed it.' (A++)"

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"A visceral work […] a true pearl of the fantastic literature. Breath-taking."

—Café de Ontem

“Scream Angel was especially horrifying and compelling, and I wound up re-reading it again after I had finished the book.“

—Fluidity of Time, June 2010

“[a] perfect gem...” “I wept for the soldier in ‘Scream Angel’” “I especially liked the two angel stories, Angel's Kitchen, and the last story, Scream Angel.”

— reviews, September 2003

“By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2002 Aurora Award Finalist
Mammoth Book of Best New Horror selection

"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

“Highlights among the stories include Douglas Smith's delightfully creepy ‘By Her Hand, She Draws You Down,’ about a young woman who is driven by a mysterious hunger to sketch people and steal their life force as her horrified lover looks on.”

—Kristine Huntley, Booklist (the review journal of the American Library Assoc.), 2002

"Pitch perfect."

—Canadian Science Fiction Review, 2011

"I was reminded of the tone of some of Harlan Ellison’s best work...where many of the protagonists seemed to be the unwitting victims of dark, irrational forces. ... I was impressed with the deftness and economy of Smith’s handling of the central conceit: Cath is compelled to draw out of an unnatural hunger... [and] the rightness of Smith’s decision to avoid telling us how, or why, Cath has been cursed with this power. "

—Mike Driscoll, The Fix, November 2008

“...a title that rules. ...psychic vampirism, creepy street performers, the horrors of small coastal towns. And Smith took the story somewhere that surprised me. The twist is sustained.”

—Jay Lake, Tangent Online, November 2001

"With vampires currently enjoying their all-media heyday, it remains a challenge for writers and filmmakers to put a new and different spin on the bloodsucker story. Acclaimed Canadian writer Douglas Smith delivered just that, coming up with a unique twist in his short story "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down.""

— Fangoria Magazine, 2010

"[A] wonderful, creepy and suspenseful tale of a boardwalk portrait artist who struggles with a powerful dark hunger, and the man who, through loving her, must come to grips with his own inner demons. 'By Her Hand' is horror, yes, but also love story, as once again Douglas Smith's characters shine through extreme circumstances as strong, believable and sympathetic figures. These are people who we care about, fighting a horror born of darkest nightmares--nighmares made real through Doug's aptitude for drawing all of his reader's senses into the story. Reading 'By Her Hand...', I saw the desolate expanse of Joe's endless highway, heard the gravel crunch beneath the feet of Cath's next victim, smelled the salt air of the ocean -- tinged with decay, tasted the bile of Joe's horror, and felt his growing dread in the pit of my own stomach. 'By Her Hand, She Draws You Down' is a compelling, horrifying, tragic read."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

“...examines vampirism from an unusual and genuinely horrifying angle.”

—Nick Gevers, SF Site Review, 2001

"Another contender for collection favorite. It provides a nice twist on vampirism, reminiscent of Fritz Leiber's 'The Girl with the Hungry Eyes'."

— Innsmouth Free Press, Jan 2011

"Well done and with a nice twist…"

—Fantasy Book Critic, 2010

"Haunting passages and scenes..."

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

“Given the prevalence of vampiresque creatures in contemporary genre fiction, I'm impressed with how the author handles his variation on the breed (I write vampiresque because we're really not dealing with a vampire in this story; that's just the closest species that comes to mind). "By Her Hand…" works because of the relationship between the fantastic and the familiar world, the horror and those things for which that horror could be a metaphor.”

—Bureau 42, Feb 2011

“...a chilling, weird tale of an artist with a great hunger.”

—The Haunted Weblog Reviews, Fall 2003

“Familiar subjects...dealt with in an original form and with a final turn that will surprise you.”

—Javier Romero, Bibliopolis, 2003 (translated from Spanish)

“[This story] is beyond creepy, and that's why I love it”

—Justine Lewkowicz, News Talk 1010 Radio, Bookends Review, 2012

“The Red Bird” (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2002 Aurora Award Finalist

“I loved this tale. ... It has the feel of a myth or legend about a boy who finds that his destiny is closely entwined with the destiny of a people. But rather than repeat a tale we've all read before, the author has written something subtly new. … Honestly, I could have read it forever. The ending was that perfect combination of sadness and hope.”

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Review, Sept 2010

"A spellbinding piece of writing set in a Japan-that-never-was that is both well-plotted and elegantly paced"

—Strange Horizons, June 2010

“A superbly told, involving, and brilliantly paced short story, complete with an ending made more tragic by its inevitability... Worth the price of the issue.”

—Erol Engin, Tangent Online, August 2001

"A mini-epic about a young boy named Asai and the phoenix that saves him from death while his village is being raided... If you love Japanese and Samurai stories, this one will give you goose bumps."

—Eric Joel Bresin, Tangent Online, May 2005

"Powerful, moving and not quite predictable (A+)"

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

“Saved from the destruction of his village by a mysterious, flame-red bird, Asai is led to the Temple of the Hidden Light where he is instructed in the Way of the Warrior. … The Red Bird is a mythic tale wrapped in an intimate coming-of-age story … Smith weaves an intriguing tapestry of the mythos of the Red Bird, sprinkled throughout with rich images which stayed with me long after I had finished reading. I found the story's pacing luxurious, but never slow. Fast-paced sword fights mingled with more meditative scenes … but it is in the more leisurely scenes that The Red Bird truly shines. Asai's mythic role as Warrior is always with him, the Warrior's fate dogging him as tightly as a shadow, such that the moments which promise him the greatest happiness are also those which hold the greatest tension. ... I found the ending of The Red Bird compelling and both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. Douglas Smith delivers on his promise and then some in this short story with epic scope.”

—Rainbow Dragon Recommends, Jan 2011

“A wonderfully recounted story, with an excellent pace and a perfect ending.”

—Javier Romero, Bibliopolis, 2003

The Boys are Back in Town (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)

"The Zelazny-inspired "The Boys Are Back in Town" nicely toes the line between quirky humor and pathos."

—Publishers Weekly, Jan 2010

"High adventure with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour. ... I think Roger Zelazny would have loved it."

—Terry Grignon, Mar 2011

"A partly funny, partly dark story … I enjoyed this one a lot; one of the most "pure entertainment" tales of the [Chimerascope] collection "

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

State of Disorder (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
2000 Aurora Award Finalist
The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention

"A neat twist on time travel and quantum physics."

—Publishers Weekly, Jan 2010

"A sinister time-travel scenario that manages to feel truly unsettling."

—Canadian Science Fiction Review, 2011

“With a cast of three (two rival scientists and a woman) and a limited setting (the same dinner party, although at different times), Smith explores the possibilities for revenge and manipulation inherent in time travel. The claustrophobic atmosphere of this tale heightens its devilish suspense and draws favorable comparisons to Poe’s tales of trapped, desperate protagonists.”

—Elizabeth Allen, Tangent Online, Nov 2006

"A chilling story of three dinners in the same place and time, and a very satisfying ending made this another A++ story [in Chimerascope]."

—Fantasy Book Critic, Mar 2010

"Another standout is the masterful "State of Disorder," which contemplates the flexibility and fluidity of time. A number of events occur during a single, three-course dinner: the fortunes of two men are swapped, retrospectively, in time; a child's life is erased permanently from the timeline; and finally, all three participants finish the meal with the knowledge of what has occurred, and how—one is triumphant, another despairing, and the third seeks revenge. In the hands of a less skillful writer, it would have been chaos."

—Ideomancer Magazine, Sept 2010

“A stunning piece of work.”

—Kim Mohan, editor, Amazing Stories

"A deliciously nasty villain, complex plot, and lovely twist."

—Kristene Perron, Warpworld fiction reviews, 2013

"Smith invokes both Stephen Hawking and Edgar Allan Poe ... a successful marriage of bold imagination and finely-crafted details, which results in a chilling page-turner."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

New Year's Eve (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
1999 Aurora Award Finalist

“The story deals with the Y2k bug, and although that might seem dated now, the story is not, since its ideas continue to be relevant today.”

—Javier Romero, Bibliopolis, 2003

Spirit Dance (Publication History | Buy | Back to Index)
1998 Aurora Award Finalist (English)
The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention
One of 50 top stories of 2000 by ISFDB rankings

“...a vivid and wonderfully written tale about Native Canadian spirits, in the vein of Thomas King.”

—James Schellenberg, Challenging Destiny, March 2003

"The characters are intriguing and the story beguiling. I would like to read more about these characters."

—Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest Book Reviews, January 2009

"A blending of mythologies, combining European myths of the werewolf with myths from Canada's indigenous peoples. When a non-indigenous person uses aboriginal myths, there is always a danger of misuse or cultural appropriation, … [but Smith] shows a respect for Canada's First Peoples as formative for the Canadian experience – he does not relegate aboriginal people to the background. Unlike many authors, Smith does not put aboriginal people in the position of the cultural Other, nor does he try to put aboriginal people into the position of the "noble savage" archetype, trying to make them the holders of ancient wisdom. … [Smith] wields the werewolf as a symbol for ecological issues, representing the fusion of the natural and the human in one form and representing an animal that is traditionally stigmatised as dangerous while also representing the deep woods and the image of untouched nature. … Smith presents a strong ecological mystery story where characters attempt to understand the root of this incident and his characters are forced into a space of moral question where values conflict with one another."

—Derek Newman-Stille,Speculating Canada, November 2012

"A protest against clear cutting of old growth forests in Northern Ontario ... leads to an escalating series of events involving family secrets, a covert government agency and a powerful and ancient race of shape shifters. 'Spirit Dance' works on both intimate and epic levels (including a great, high adrenaline battle between armed humans, shape-shifters and forest animals). ... Smith's Herok'a are expertly realized and an interesting take on the shape-shifter mythos, and each individual character within the story is just as carefully and finely crafted. Relationships are complex and many-layered, as Doug is able to weave a rich back-story into the lives of his characters... Love, sex, action, intrigue, humour, the complexities of life, tragedy of death, and wonder of rebirth are all packed into 'Spirit Dance'."

Rainbow Dragon Recommends, May 2009

" [example of] the author's ability to place the possible and impossible side by side to excellent effect in an action packed story."

—Kent Knopp-Schwyn, Hellnotes, September 2009

"... an adventurous tale that's propelled by character drama ... If this was a Hollywood movie, this would be your blockbuster film, complete with adrenaline-pumping action, expensive special effects, and even a sex scene or two to lure in a mainstream audience."

—Charles Tan, Bibilophile Stalker - Speculative Fiction Reviews, December 2008

"...draws on North American Indian myths, particularly the idea of shapeshifters... Smith once more creates a credible and sympathetic protagonist, Gwyn Blaidd, [who] returns to his old stomping ground to help out some fellow shapeshifters who have become embroiled in a conflict with a large logging concern."

—Mike O'Driscoll, The Fix, Dec 2008

“...a shape-changer story interweaving First Nations and Celtic elements, in a manner reminiscent of Charles de Lint.”

—The International Review of Science Fiction, #106, Summer 2009

“...does interesting things with a love triangle, were-animals and CSIS. (!)”

—Christian Sauvé, 1998

MOVIE REVIEWS (Back to Index)

“By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” (Movie info | Buy | Back to Index)

"With vampires currently enjoying their all-media heyday, it remains a challenge for writers and filmmakers to put a new and different spin on the bloodsucker story. Acclaimed Canadian writer Douglas Smith delivered just that, coming up with a unique twist in his short story "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down." When producer/writer/director Anthony G. Sumner and producer Alan Rowe Kelly read the tale, they contacted Smith and got his blessing to turn the disquieting story into a short film [with] a final reveal that emerges as quite unexpected, satisfying and sad. ... BY HER HAND's acting is superb, and it comes as no surprise that both Murdock and Chlanda took home awards for their efforts at the 2010 Oklahoma Horror Film Festival.... BY HER HAND, SHE DRAWS YOU DOWN is now hitting the festival circuit—and worth seeking out. "

—Fangoria, September 2010

"By Her Hand is reminiscent of the some of the best in independent horror film to explore this territory; if I had to explain it in the old 'If you liked X, see Y', standard, X would probably be Let the Right One In, which should tell you how much I liked By Her Hand."

Blog review from The Zombie Rights Campaign

"This film comes from author Douglas Smith's story of the same name and breathes in Anthony Sumner's screenplay, transforming into a new variation on the vampire genre. Anthony's creation contains an incredible haunting feeling, [that] escapes the screen like a hypnotic trance, assisted from Gene Hodsdon eerie music and filming in November at the desolate beachside locations in the historic New Jersey shore. … [A] tale of love, commitment and survival."

– Rogue Cinema, May 2011

"A haunting tale of hunger,depression and subtle vampirism. … Fantastic and compelling performances elevate the bleak and unsettling plot into a short film demanding of your attention. Both leads create characters filled with despair, desperation and a yearning for a better life and this comes across all too well. … A horror film not to be ignored."

Hacked in the Head reviews, Oct 2012