By William Todd Rose
Pub Date: May 19th, 2015
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The subtitled description of William Todd Rose's Crossfades reads "A Dystopian Novella" It is a bit misleading since I identify dystopian novels with dysfunctional societies and social-political conflicts. Rose's sci-fi/horror hybrid involves a somewhat clandestine company but beyond that it is mainly about life after death and the struggle of making connections with others in our world and beyond. Chuck works at a mysterious place known only as the Institute where he enters into shadow areas, between our life and whatever exists beyond, that are called crossfades. His task is to help those souls caught in these crossfades continue their journey into the hereafter. It is a job that becomes his sole purpose, squeezing out anything else life has to offer him. In most cases, entering this limbo area is a routine task that consists simply of pointing the way out to the trapped soul. But sometimes a soul deliberately stays and manipulates the delusional surroundings of crossfades, trapping others for their own evil purposes. Chuck gets caught up in one of these crossfades, gets himself in over his pay scale so to speak, and breaks one of the primary rules of his profession, don't become attached to your target.
Crossfades is a short but nicely structured tale deftly combining a sci-fi feel with the more psychological, and psychopathic, thrill of supernatural horror. While there is a villain and we discover who he is, he is primarily an instrument of the terror to come. Scary but not all that well defined. But that is OK. This is a story about a man who does his job and is solely invested in his job to the detriment of everything else in life. It is about how one must examine the niche one finds themselves in and achieve something else even if that something else may cost you your job and even your life. As a novella it works well, maybe too well. This could have easily been stretched into a full novel since we have an interesting protagonist and a very intriguing dilemma. I wish it was. But for what it is, I enjoyed it. There is a nice twist at the end and even if further reflection brings out the pat convenience in the resolution, it still works nicely. This is one of those works by a new author that stays there in your mind while you wonder what else the writer is capable of; Good, not great but has hints of greatness to come. We will just have to wait and see