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PS Showcase #5: Impossibilia by Douglas Smith

01/01/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen

Buy Impossibilia in the USA - or Buy Impossibilia in the UK

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pub: PS Publishing. 109 page hardcover. ISBN 978-1-848630-01-7 (Jacketed hardcover) £25.00 (UK) $37.50 (US) ISBN: 978-1-848630-00-0 £10.00 (UK), $15.00 (US) hardcover.

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'Impossibilia' is a small collection of short fiction by Douglas Smith. An award-winning author of speculative fiction, Douglas Smith has had pieces published in over eighty publications but this is his first collection of short fiction.

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. Perhaps this is the reason there are only three stories collected here, more would be overwhelming. In my search for the perfect short story, the three in this volume certainly qualify.

In 'Bouquet of Flowers In A Vase by Van Gogh', Maroch, an ex-agent of 'The Company' assists a new protégée, Laure, in the process of remote viewing. This time, instead of using their unique talent to locate missing persons and warheads, they are trying to locate lost paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. Laure is successful in viewing the past and begins to communicate with Van Gogh, something previously thought impossible. Her ability being to influence the past, producing not only the desired painting, 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 whether the subject matter is of interest to you or not. The ending is a perfect resolution of the paradox of backward time travel.

In 'Spirit Dance', Gwyn Blaidd is Herok'a, a race of not quite human people ancestrally related to animals. Not only are they endowed with the traits, abilities and command over their chosen animal, they can take its shape. The Herok'a are governed by the Circle and hunted by the Tainchel. When important (read: wealthy) people in his remote community turn up dead, Blaidd is set the task of finding out why and uncovers more than bargained for.

A nice slice of a larger story and works well as a short story or as an episode. The characters are intriguing and the story beguiling. I would like to read more about these characters.

In 'Going Down to Lucky Town', Charlie has followed the trail of good luck all his life. He has the knack for telling a lucky person from an unlucky person. Then he meets the unluckiest person in the world and manages to turn even this to his advantage.

Another great story, but I'm getting used to that. Deft handling of character and setting (gambling, cons and the game of life) tells the story of Charlie following luck. Although Charlie may seem a cad, he comes off as an extremely likeable fellow.

This small collection of short fiction has an afterword by Julie Czerneda which neatly sums up the writing of Douglas Smith, 'With every new story, the more impressed I am with his 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.'

Kelly Jensen

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