Schemers is the latest genre-crossing anthology of new short fiction from Stone Skin Press. From the classic myths to the pages of the Bible, from Shakespeare’s stage to the yellowed pulps of yesteryear, literature runs red with tales of plotting and betrayal. As much as compassion or a yen for the ineffable, the knife in the back spans the human experience.
The protagonist of Tobias S. Buckell’s near-future bio-thriller “A Pressure of Shadows” may or may not qualify as human anymore, but he’s certainly stuck in a white knuckle experience. With taut control, Buckell suggests the imminence of the moment when questions of identity and of survival fuse into one.
Kikoru, despite her name, is definitely British. Maybe her parents raised her in Japan, or just took a strange fancy to the name. Marcus pulls at his handcuffs, and wonders how she gets blonde-silver hair like that? Are the roots dark?
No. It’s natural. She’s striking, his drug-addled brain tells him. Things he normally leaves swimming around beneath his conscious mind are just on the edge of his tongue. She is something that haunts his typical midnight fantasy. Sitting in front of him for real.
“Marcus.” She even talks to him.
A huge cockroach flies in through the metal shutters and lands by a guard. It’s crushed by an absentminded boot stomp.
“Sitting right here,” Marcus says.
“Where is the suit?”
“I’m not going to tell you.” She doesn’t expect that.
“Scopolamine is a limited drug.” Marcus smiles, his mind clearing. Little bacteria, itty-bitty inventions of the lab he worked in, run around his blood looking for truth serums, poisons, whatever. off with more than one major industrial secret from the lab.
For the rest, get Schemers from Stone Skin Press.
Born in the Caribbean, Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author. His novels and over 50 short stories have been translated into 17 languages and he has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. He currently lives in Ohio. Find him at www.TobiasBuckell.com.