The Curse of Chimère

The Curse of Chimère
Beneath Ceaseless Skies #53 – October 7, 2010 (fantasy short story)
reprinted in Ceaseless Steam anthology, 2012

“I barely braced myself in time against the jolt as we screeched to a stop centimetres away from the hapless fellow.”


Horror attends the premier of the new color film by Chimère Studios. The eyes of the audience begin to bleed almost as soon as the film begins, and later the projectionist is found dead. The director suspects sabotage by her rivals, but Professor Tremaine Voss and Inspector Carmouche fear the problem may lie somewhere in the film itself, the camera or the projector…Another arcane mystery in an appealingly mannered setting which evokes France of the Belle Époque, powered by alchemy. Color in films has just been introduced, but the alchemists can’t yet find a way to reproduce sounds. Voss is an adequate logical detective… — Lois Tilton, Locus Online

…an imaginative medley of steampunk, fantasy and Victorian mystery…the tale is ultimately a whodunnit, but this time with elements of ‘adventure’ stories from a bygone colonial era – a touch of grue; a final confrontation with a villain that requires quick wit and dexterity from the hero. The tale follows Professor Voss, whose night out to a showing of a reputed trilogy of colour films (a new invention in this world) takes a turn for the worse when he discovers that patrons are starting to bleed from the eyes. We are quickly immersed in a search for the answers behind this ominous crisis…Pi uses the fantastical elements of his world shrewdly and not gratuitously, creating a mystery that could only be created and solved in the specific world that he sets up so meticulously. The use of cinema, and the exploration of the medium’s ‘magical’ powers of mimicry and glamour, is integral and interesting. The tale is faithful to the anachronistic literary style of its Victorian inspirations, making the dialogue sound stilted and odd to modern ears. This takes some getting used to, because of its affectations. However, it doesn’t take long to settle into the rhythm. The characterizations are slight and quick, but serve their purpose, and the facets that make up the riddle that is to be answered at the end are complex and fantastic enough to be thoroughly rewarding, not to mention entertaining. Pi also uses real mythology and history to great effect, but weaves in entirely original aspects too, bringing together a compelling world in the mind’s eye. — Indrapramit Das, Tangent Online

…a good Tony Pi story, “The Curse of Chimère”, one of a few he’s done recently in a fantastical alternate history concerning Ys and Lyonesse and the cinema — here we have a movie that apparently can kill you if you watch it…– Rich Horton

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