My introduction to Douglas Smith has been a very rewarding one. I stumbled upon his work in a compilation called Best New Werewolf Tales. The story was Out of the Light and it was excellent. This caused me to dig deeper. Who was this mysterious author that I hadn’t heard of before, did he write anything else, and was it as good as Out of the Light? Well I now have two of those three questions answered. I can’t say that I know him, but I did find more of his stories on Amazon and after reading Scream Angel, I can tell you that answer is yes for the final question. While Scream Angel isn’t horror, Douglas Smith writes some incredible horror stories. So, I’m blurring the lines here because many of my favorite horror authors also delve into Sci-fi/fantasy. Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, and William Meikle immediately come to mind. Also, the world needs great story tellers and I feel that Smith deserves to be recognized as such.
Scream Angel is a sci-fi/fantasy tale of a human soldier named Jason Trelayne that is given a drug called Scream. Scream causes your nervous system to process pain and sadness into euphoria. The worse the pain, the more euphoria you feel. The governent uses this to create super soldiers to do their dirty work while smiling and laughing the whole time. Scream also creates heavy drug addiction and eventually burns the soldiers out. Jason falls in love with one of the creatures that actually produces Scream and makes a run for it. Oh but the evil empire doesn’t like dissenters and doesn’t tolerate stealing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
In a wildly inventive and imagnative story, human emotions of loss, desparation, and love bubble to the surface. I’m usually not a huge fan of heavy sci-fi/fantasy. Most of the time, it requires such a bloated set up to be able to explain everything, I tend to tire of it because many authors have a hard time getting the balance right. Some will fail to explain things sufficiently which causes the reader to get lost in a world that only makes sense to the author. Others will inflate the story to the point where reading it becomes tedious and tiresome wallowing through all the untrimmed fat. I can honestly say that Smith does an excellent job in balancing the story and makes for an extremely enjoyable read. I loved the unique characters and premise of the drug, Scream. The other thing that I found enjoyable is the brief explanation at the end of the story on how he came up with the idea of Scream Angel. It lent a personal touch to the whole thing and allowed the reader to have a glimpse into the creation of it all. I may not know the author, but i’m enjoying getting to know his work.
5 out of 5 stars
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