My Ad Astra Schedule (Toronto, Apr 9-11)

I'll be appearing at Ad Astra, the excellent annual Toronto SF&F con in April. Ad Astra always features a strong literary program as well as the expected media focus. Location: Crowne Plaza Toronto Don Valley Hotel, 1250 Eglinton Avenue East. Here's my schedule for panels, signings, and readings, plus the official Toronto Chimerascope launch:

Fri 10:00 PM — Grassroots on Virtual Soil (Ballroom Centre) Word of mouth advertising has taken on a new life with current technologies. Learn how social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace can help advertise and build support for new books, movies, fan events and more. (Panelists: Matt Moore (m), Justine Lewkowicz, Douglas Smith, Cathy Palmer-Lister)

Sat 11:00 AM — ChiZine Publications Panel (Ballroom Centre) Beginning as the print off-shoot of Chiaroscuro, in less than two years, ChiZine Publications has grown into a small but influential player in independent genre publishing. CZP staff and authors discuss and answer questions about its growth in a bad time for publishing, the future of genre publishing, why a small press might be a better option for beginning writers, and how they have fun doing it. (Panelists: Brett Alexander Savory, Sandra Kasturi, Matt Moore Gemma Files, David Nickle, Claude Lalumiere, Douglas Smith, Helen Marshall, Laura Marshall, Erik Mohr, Bob Boyczuk)

Sat 1:00 PM — Autographs by Douglas Smith Dealers Room I'll be signing autographs and signing copies of my two collections, Chimerascope and Impossibilia, in the Dealers Room. You'll be able to buy copies of both as well.

Sat 3:00 PM — Beyond Wikipedia (Salon 443) Research techniques and pitfalls for writers. How do you know whether the information on the internet is accurate? What are your best reference sources, when are books better than the internet, and when (and how!) do you talk to an expert? (Panelists: Gabrielle Harbowy (m), Douglas Smith, Karin Lowachee, Bob Boyczuk, Justine Lewkowicz)

Sat 4:00 PM — Autograph Session (to 5:30) (Ballroom East) A large group of the author guests at Ad Astra will be at a group signing event for 90 minutes.

Sat 7:00-9:00 PM — Chimerascope Launch (as part of CZP Launch) (Antons') My publisher, ChiZine Publications, will be launching my collection, Chimerascope, along with Gemma Files' new novel, Book of Tongues. (Attendees: Brett Alexander Savory, Douglas Smith, Gemma Files, Matt Moore, Sandra Kasturi)

Sun 11:00 AM — Reading (Antons') I'll be reading, either from Chimerascope or from my Aurora short-listed story, "Radio Nowhere," along with friend and fellow CZP author, Claude Lalumiere.

Sun Noon-1:00 PM — "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down" Movie screening and Discussion (Antons') I'll be screening an almost final cut of the indie film based on my horror short story "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down" and then discussing the story-to-film process with fellow ChiZine writer, David Nickle. Free giveaways of the official movie companion book.

Sun 2:00 PM — Dueling Openings (Ballroom Centre) Short fiction writers (all with collections out from CZP) take turns reading the opening lines of their published stories, and the audience chooses which opening(s) they like best. Authors discuss what makes a good opening, why they're important. (Panelists: Douglas Smith (m), Claude Lalumiere, David Nickle, Robert Boyczuk)


Chimerascope: An "A+" review in Fantasy Book Critic

Liviu Suciu provides another incredibly positive review of my new collection, Chimerascope in his Fantasy Book Critic review blog. Here are some excerpts:

"Douglas Smith's debut collection Impossibilia, which I reviewed last year and which has the lead story "Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, by Van Gogh" (one of those rare "become a fan for life" pieces), made reading Chimerascope a must as soon as I have found out about it.

Adding that it has been published by Chi-Zine publications from whom I have read only quality works so far, and Chimerascope came with the highest expectations for me, and it matched them and more, with several mind-blowing stories in an ensemble of all-high-level ones. ...

The stories range from far-flung sf and time-travel, to fantasy-like landscapes and even towards straight horror, so Chimerascope, as befits its name, is a changeable entity, one that cannot be easily confined into a narrow pattern and will appeal to fans to all kinds of speculative fiction. ...

In conclusion. I would say that Chimerascope (A+ overall) confirms for me what Impossibilia affirmed, namely that Douglas Smith is an extraordinary author whom every lover of quality speculative fiction should read."

The review includes story-by-story reviews as well. You can read the entire review here.

Chimerascope: Starred review in Quill and Quire

Quill and Quire, the magazine of the Canadian book trade, gives Chimerascope a *starred* review:

"...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 Boys are Back in Town,' set in a tavern managed by a fallen god, posits a reality where 'lawyers flirted with nymphs, tourists played pinball with satyrs, and professors debated hydras…Hydras aren’t too bright, but just try getting a word in against multiple heads.'

'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. 'State of Disorder' layers a time-travel scenario over a polite dinner between colleagues, with unsettling results. 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.”

— Cory Redekop, Quill and Quire, Mar 2010

Glowing review of CHIMERASCOPE by American Library Journal

From the Library Journal(US) review of my collection, Chimerascope:

"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."

Read more about Chimerascope, including reviews and excerpts here.

Researching "Radio Nowhere"

My short story, "Radio Nowhere," is one of five stories on this year's final ballot for Canada's Aurora Award. Before writing the story, I went back to the University of Waterloo campus (ever so many years after my student days) to do some research.

The trip was both nostalgic and a lot of fun. One of the advantages of being a writer is that people always seem willing to help you with your research, and you often get into some very cool places that you'd otherwise probably never get to see.

For this story, I had help from James "Road Dog" Walker, a veteran dj at the campus radio station, Radio Waterloo, CKNW 100.3. James gave me a tour of the station and patiently answered all of my questions about how a radio show actually works. Here's a shot on the right of one of the CKNW control rooms.


Rick Zalagenas, Director of Maintenance and Utilities at UW, was also extremely helpful in a key piece of research for the story: providing me with a tour of the infamous steam tunnels that run under the campus.

The tunnels were a thing of legend when I went to UW, and I'd heard the stories over the years, but had never actually been down into this labyrinth. They were just as creepy as I'd hoped and fit the story perfectly. The picture on the right shows a shot of one area of the tunnels.

Publishers Weekly Review of Chimerascope

From Publishers Weekly on my collection, Chimerascope:

"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."

And PW also had some very nice (and deserved) things to say about ChiZine Publications, my publisher for Chimerascope:

"ChiZine Press continues to hit the mark. I don't know what's in the water up in Canada, but it's turning out some great writers, and CZP is finding and publishing them with amazing alacrity. If I could subscribe to a publisher like a magazine or a book club—one flat annual fee to get everything they publish—I would subscribe to CZP. I think the only U.S. imprint I would say that about is Orbit, and CZP is just a touch better at hitting the literary-and-deeply-creepy mark that I love so much."

No surprise to me. CZP is great to work with and publishes a beautiful, high quality product in all of their books.

"Spirit Dance" picked for anthology of Aurora Award winners

My story, "Spirit Dance," has been picked for a new anthology from Nanopress entitled The Aurora Awards – Thirty Years of Canadian Science Fiction. Nanopress is a new small press based in Montreal, and their authors include Elizabeth Vonarburg.

Looking back, the road for "Spirit Dance" from birth to a "best of" antho seems like a long and strange one. It was the first story I ever wrote and the first I ever sold.

It appeared in Tesseracts6 in 1997, was a finalist for the Auroras in English the next year, and snagged an honourable mention for The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, all of which I thought at the time was pretty good for a first story. And that was where I figured it would end.

But then I discovered reprints, and foreign language reprints in particular.

I sold "Spirit Dance" to a great little (and now defunct) dark fantasy magazine in France, called Tenebres, whose editors kindly translated stories from English.

Once it appeared there, I was able to sell the translation to the excellent Quebec magazine, Solaris, which only takes subs in French. That translation, entitled "La Danse des Esprits," went on to win the French Aurora Award for short fiction in 2001, which then, almost a decade later, brings it to being picked for this Aurora Award anthology.

What a long strange trip it's been for the little story that could. "Spirit Dance" has been reprinted a total of eighteen times in several languages and was included in my mini-collection, Impossibilia in 2008. It's also the story on which I based my first novel, "Spirit Dreams."

Nomination period for 2010 Aurora Awards now open

The nomination period for the 2010 Aurora Awards is now open. Each year, the Auroras recognize the best in Canadian speculative fiction. This year my story "Radio Nowhere" is eligible to be nominated under "Best Short Form Work in English." "Radio Nowhere" appeared in the excellent Canadian anthology, Campus Chills (October 2009), edited by Mark Leslie. While the nomination period is open, I've put the full text of the story online here.

Anyone who is a Canadian citizen (not necessarily living in Canada), or a permanent resident may nominate a work for the Auroras. See here for a list of eligible 2009 works. Nominations can be done online or by mail-in ballot. Click the link below for access to the official Aurora Awards nomination site:

Nominating for the 2010 Aurora Awards

All nominations, both mail-in and online, must be submitted by February 8, 2010.

This will be the 29th year that the Canadian SF and Fantasy Association awards (the "Auroras") will be presented. On a per-capita basis, the Aurora Awards have the largest voter turnout of any national SF award in the world, exceeding that of the American-dominated Hugos, the Japanese Seiuns, the British Arthur C. Clarke Awards, and the Australian Ditmars.

Each year, a different convention or group hosts the awards. This year, they will be presented at KEYCON 27 in Winnipeg May 22-24, 2010.

Impossibilia in SF Crowsnest's Top 100 SF&F books of 2009

Hey cool! My first collection, Impossibilia is currently sitting at #43 on SF Crowsnest's Top 100 SF&F Books of 2009.

If you've read Impossibilia and liked it, please scoot over to the list and vote for it. Or for any book on the list that you enjoyed, for that matter--but, uh, mine would be the preferred choice, preferred by me anyway.

Additional story in hardcover editon of Chimerascope

If you order the signed, numbered, limited hardcover edition of my new collection, Chimerascope, you'll be getting an additional story that won't be included in the trade paperback editions. ChiZine Publications will be including "Murphy's Law" (reviews) in the hardcover. And an order for the hardcover also makes you eligible for the free book giveaway. Hardcover orders must be placed by Dec 31.


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