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ISBN-10: 1-55404-049-3
Genre: Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 312 Pages
Published: April 2003

From inside the flap

Jane Templeton Rice is the highest paid fashion model in her industry. Her whole life stretches out in front of her like extravagent courses in a Chinese banquet. The night of the Gaultier show why did Jane go 'walkabout'?

We follow this delicate young redhead on a blistering erotic adventure of discovery. But we soon find out that Jane has a problem. Her ability to dredge up the very deepest fantasies from her lovers is both an erotic firestorm and a millstone around her slender neck. How pure the intensions of her lovers must be. How honourable. For one small slip of conscience will result in a filthy bloodbath of man-raped sexual identity unwoven. And what of the SZMONHFU, the alien race of super beings, what is their part in Jane's illustrious future?

SZMONHFU in many ways tells the tale of Pinocchio - but in the biogenetic horrotica world of Hertzan Chimera that impending maturity takes on a haunted inevitability stripped from the original kids' story.

Reviews and Awards


Imagine if you will, a woman who doesn't know who she is, where she comes from, or where she is going. Imagine she has memories that she can't trust, powers she can't understand, and dreams she cannot possibly comprehend. Suppose this woman holds the crux of our evolutionary beginnings. Such is the frenetic life of Jane, the lead in Hertzan Chimera's literary roller coaster, SZMONHFU.

The first third (roughly) of this 278-page novel centers on our Jane's search of self. Mind you, this is no coming of age book, nor is it a step into any traditional ism she can visit. Her need for self-discovery isn't as much a soul search for the sake of enlightenment as it is a necessity for the survival of those with whom she comes in contact. And the body count builds in proportion to the number of identities Jane seems to pass through. The midsection is a time of mild awakening for Jane as she finds keys to certain mental padlocks, thusly finding a direction and purpose, albeit temporary, for her life. Her new dilemma, however, has her worried about her species more than she is about her identity. Both are challenged by another person who seems to possess skills and powers Miss Jane seems to have lost in her escape from the imagination of another.

The last loop in the SZMONHFU theme park finds dear Jane settled in as a somewhat respected member of the academic community, as, what she musingly calls herself, a language technician. She lives a double life even now, dividing her time between cracking the centuries-old language of the dolphins and courting the world's most famous (and infamous) rock star, James Doray, who just might hold something more compelling than the key to her heart. These two facets meld, though, as global security is threatened by what most of the political leaders consider a radical saboteur. It is discovered by Jane that the threats come from two different sources: One is a self-educating computer that volunteers its time to helping Jane crack her dolphin code; The other is from an intercepted interstellar message from the SZMONHFU, a race that seems to hold the secret to the genetic infrastructure of humans. In breaking the human/dolphin language barrier, our Jane makes a startling discovery of origin that will have mankind second thinking who should be listed as next-of-kin.

This thirteen-year project is a tribute to the growth of Chimera's skill as an artist of the written word. In the galleries of modern art, there is room upon the wall for the seductive strokes of Rembrandt, the suggestive splashes of the Impressionists, and the razor-like slashes of Picasso's subjects. Within the pages of SZMONHFU, you will find a collaborative
effort of descriptive artistry, with scene after scene that at once seduce you with their beauty, whisper in your ear of hidden power, and shock you to the marrow with disturbing rifts in the canvas of reality. This is not a faint-of-heart piece of literature. Nor is it for grammar school teachers.

This book was edited with artistic integrity intact. If you need to put SZMONHFU down on occasion to eat, sleep, or just contemplate and absorb what was just read, place the bookmark two pages back. And please remember the basic table manners your mother tried to instill when eating the elephant, take small bites and chew thoroughly.

Reviewed by Chris Winters.


This is the second title from Eraserhead Press that I've had an opportunity to review, and so I sort of knew what to expect. I knew that Szmonhfu was going to be different, and having come across a few of Chimera's short stories here and there on the Net, I also knew it was going to be an exercise in the extreme.

Szmonhfu, as far as I can tell, is the tale of Jane Templeton Rice in many incarnations (including Jane Louixis, and Jane Reiman) who seems to have no specific identity other than that of a woman who searches constantly for an identity she's not quite sure really exists. It is evident from the beginning that Jane is no ordinary woman - she dissolves into walls and appears through floors, skipping from one set of uncertain experiences to another. Through the course of the novel, Jane shacks up with or hooks into a variety of ill-fated men who seem just as lost or aimless as she feels, including a misunderstood, not entirely likable abstract artist, a truck driver, and a rock star. I may have missed a few while wringing out my brain between readings. Awful things, hallucinatory, torturous things, happen to her and to the men she's with. During the multitude of sex scenes there's gore, there's fear, there's confusion.

We come to understand later in the book that Jane is either being controlled by some beings from another world or dimension called Szmonhfu, or that she is one of these beings. That, at least, is as much as I understood. The beginning of this novel is scattershot, and didn't quite grab hold. I had to re-read the first few chapters to see if maybe I was just too tired the first time. Alas, no adjective laden extended metaphors, psychedelic descriptions of one scene melting into another, and flashbacks (or skips ahead in time and place) are the heavy weight that dogs the reader on his way through this acid trip landscape. I struggled to understand what was taking place who was this Jane? And then, ahh, just as I thought I might go insane we hit the closest thing to a narrative pace for the first time as Jane meets the first of her ill-fated suitors in a rather unconventional
manner. Although the story begins to unfold in a somewhat linear manner from here on out, the same kinds of clarity issues return and create a murk that' s difficult to navigate.
I found myself wondering what Hertzan Chimera's aim was with this novel. He breaks pretty much all of the rules. Szmonhfu is an exercise in extreme experimentalism, and certainly he must have been writing with some aim in mind. Perhaps to break the mold of today's milquetoast literature, perhaps to challenge the reader who's not used to being challenged. Nonetheless, some things must be explained to the reader at some point, or the entire link between writer and reader, which is essential to good characterization and plotting, becomes a frustrated exercise in head-scratching. Dialogue is not clearly defined.

There is a good deal of editorializing, and due to the nature of subject matter, the extended metaphors are sometimes confused with actual events in the story. It's easy to get lost in the claustrophobic prose incomplete sentences and unconventional punctuation. It's a bit like reading abstract poetry woven together into paragraphed narrative. That said, I'm reluctant to dismiss Szmonhfu. Certainly Chimera knew that he was way out in space with this one, and chose to stay there. It wouldn't be easy to sustain this kind of writing without having purpose or inspiration. I'm not a critic by nature, and so I'm leery of criticism in lieu of personal experience. Already this piece of work lends itself to discussion. At times one is reminded of William S. Burroughs in his prime, at other times we get Henry Miller's brand of stream of consciousness insights.

Chimera should be commended for his effort Szmonhfu is a big risk in today's literary marketplace. It is totally unconventional, and completely unlike anything written (or at least published) in recent years. But like The Western Lands, it shouldn't be read in one sitting, or you'll know the feeling of having your brain raked over a cheese grater.

Reviewed by Christopher Fulbright


"SZMONHFU": SEX, VIOLENCE AND NO SPOILERS Early in the morning, I routinely drift into my home bar and press 10-07 on the jukebox keys. Within seconds, I'm tapping to a 1958 tune warbled by Bobby Darin...

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white...
You know when that shark bites, with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread...
Now on the sidewalk,
Lies a body just oozing life
And someone's sneaking 'round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?
-- "Mack the Knife" (Berthold Brecht/Kurt Weill/Marc Blitzstein)

Yep, it's all about unbridled blood and guts but camouflaged behind beatnik jargon: it's likely that civic watchdogs and censors didn't have a clue that the song pledged an assassin's legacy. Hertzan Chimera's Szmonhfu is the "Mack the Knife" of modern goth. Not all sci-fi fans embraced Clockwork Orange's droogspeak, and I suspect that horror and film noir aficionados, who adhere to the conventions of the genres, may be equally intolerant of Chimera's hip and often opaque vernacular. Personally, I'd prefer to wallow in the author's visceral vision rather than sucking down derivative confections about vampires, Ed Gein clones, blah-blah.

Chimera's very descriptive prose evokes a hybrid of Thomas Hardy and Edgar Allan Poe, and-much to my elation-his central character, a female model whose companion is a b&w portable TV, is "reinforced concrete made flesh" (she could be loosely translated into an assertive woman, a psychotic ice princess or a non-human entity). Her sexual liaisons, which consummate in mayhem, may be allied to an alien invasion of Earth. Sometimes, I was lost in the book's darkness but I'd opt for the challenge to wander around and find an exit out of a labyrinth rather than embark on the same predictable roller coaster ride again and again. Szmonhfu, available from Ersaserhead Press, requires a strong stomach and a compass (though the needle will be constantly spiraling). Blink.

Review by Alexxus Young


It took Hertzan Chimera 13 years to write the novel "Szmonhfu." It took me 13 years to read "Szmonhfu." And like 13 years of my life, "Szmonhfu" has many ups and downs, good times and bad times. Kind of like that Dickens novel.

In all seriousness, it did take me a while to read this 100, 000 word novel disguised as a surreal painting. Why? It is rich with disturbing and bizarre images, and thick with plot and character. Plus, there is not a stitch of dialogue (which in my opinion moves a book along fast); think Hubert Selby.

What is "Szmonhfu" about?

I'm not completely sure, I may have to read it a few more times, but I was able to pick out a basic plot. There is this mysterious woman named Jane who is man-made by scientists (I think) and whenever she gets excited or aroused, her body explodes into something grotesque and unhuman. Jane starts lost and then discovers who, what, and why she is: Jane is part of a plot to stop an alien power from taking over the world (I think).

"Szmonhfu" never goes where you expect it to go. It bounces around from country to country, character to character, plot to plot, and genre to genre. But Jane always manages to be the core of the book, even if she has to change her last name from time to time.

The writing style is clinically cold. Chimera never really gets under his character's skins, expressing little emotion or deep reacting to their bizarre surroundings. But then again, if a character ever did act the way we wanted them to then there would be no story in anything. "Szmonhfu" is not for everyone, sadly. It is visually complex adventure filled with sex, violence, humor, metaphor, gore, science, and philosophy.pretty much the kitchen sink. The weak minded need not apply.

Review by Mike Purfield


In Szmonhfu, Hertzan Chimera (AKA Mike Philbin) has boldly attempted to revise the underpinnings of literary structure and convention. Layering his work with coat upon coat of intensely active metaphor, varying focal characters, a decidedly cheeky punctuation style and a nearly subterranean plot line, Chimera/Philbin has in effect painted a piece of dense abstract art on a picture window. We would perhaps not object to this at all if he had allowed the barest hint of light through to help us decipher the work. In literary/experimental fiction, it is hardly necessary for the writer to make things transparent for the reader, but a writer must allow some degree of translucency or risk accusations of literary onanism. Sadly, Chimera allows almost none. Much of the work's frustrating opacity must be attributed to the fact that Szmonhfu was 13 years in the making. One can almost hear the throng of darlings from Chimera's literary youth screaming to be slaughtered for the greater good of the work. A prudent slashing of a quarter to a third of the book would have helped it significantly.

The story (if it can be called such) follows a woman named Jane Templeton Rice. Or Jane Reiman. Or Jane Louixis. And a rock star/god/alien named James and/or Crap Elvis. Or it follows Carl or Rich or Simon or Paul or Kenji. Occasionally. Perhaps. Or not at all. Jane and others may (or may not) be transmutational beings who may (or may not) be able to turn into strange otherworldly creatures when they have (or don't have) sex, killing other people by accident (or while hypnotized or on purpose) because of some other-dimensional beings from a place/planet/dimension called Szmonhfu, who may (or may not) be destroying the Earth including Memphis, Nottingham, and Paris, France (which has mysteriously become a fascist state called Angers, Galimatia, where the king likes dolphins). Dizzy yet?

You get the picture, which is: there is no perceivable picture. And no clear language, no clear characters, no clear plot and no clear message. Mr. Chimera would doubtless say that clarity was not his aim, but in such defensiveness he would be missing the point. Fiction must have some level of clarity; otherwise, the writer is not communicating with the reader. Literature does not have to be perfectly obvious (in our opinion, it never should be) but it must communicate something. Trust us: William Burroughs would have been left scratching his after reading Szmonhfu.

Even given the numerous missteps in this work, one should not hasten to dismiss Chimera/Philbin too lightly. His literary gifts are many and point to a bright future with a modicum of navel-gazing and craftwork. Chimera's problem is not lack of talent, intelligence, or ambition but rather a surfeit of all three without the filter of literary common sense. By experimenting on too many fronts, he practically guaranteed a muddy result.

Had he held focus on one character throughout, the work might have held together as some kind of surreal rollercoaster ride; had he suspended the gouts of free form imagery in favor of a more straightforward language use, we might have been able to follow the incomprehensible character and plot twists; had he followed a more linear narrative path, we would have been more disposed to enjoy the often brilliant excesses of his language; had he used a more standard punctuation style to set the dialogue apart and had he employed some painfully absent commas, question marks, and/or semi-colons, the work might still have allowed some basic level of comprehension. (SIDE NOTE: The copy editor for this work should be run out of town on a rail splattered with liquid nitrogen.) By failing to give the reader the barest lifeline to hang onto, the author has set the reader adrift in a choppy, incomprehensible sea, and I fear that few readers will be willing to make the arduous journey to its far side.

While we admire Philbin/Chimera's shoot-for-the-stars moxie, his product shows a fatal lack of editorial distance and acumen. Someone at some point should have stood up and mentioned that the emperor was wearing too many clothes in too many different styles, fabrics, colors and contexts. Having seen the promise of some of Chimera's more recent work we were this close to accepting one of his shorts for this issue and can thus attest to an improved degree of salience when we say "Better luck next time," we say it with a mix of disappointment and a significant sense of expectation.

Review by Charles Allen Wyman


CHIMERA, a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail; 2. an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially : an unrealizable dream; 3. an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution... or maybe yet still 4. HERTZAN CHIMERA - Horror, Sci-Fi, Erotica.

I venture into a world of imagination unlike many others that I have encountered. Mr. Chimera's writing grips you with the brutalities of true horror in his latest novel SZMONHFU, the brilliant follow up to his previous novel Red Hedz. In all honesty it takes a step backward to give you more insight into his forever dangerous and intriguing Jane Louxis.

From the harsh foundations of life on mother earth as we know it, and in the backdoors of whispered conspiracies that we can only barely touch with mere thought, Hertzan delivers you into his universe, where nothing is as it truly appears and that knockout that you are taking home from the club could just possibly be a military experiment in testing or an advanced dimensional species planning the very destruction of planetary life. SZMONHFU is not for the hopeful and the weak hearted. However if you are ready for evolution and to put your mind to the ultimate test of possibility, Hertzan Chimera stands ready to turn your mind inwards.

With his words and imagination Chimera pushes the bar of scifi-erotic-horror many levels higher and then teleports it from existence. Be prepared, the SZMONHFU are here and existence is already over. BLINK

Review by Naika Malvaux

AMAZON (JAPAN) 4-star Reader Review in Kanji

This is not like any book you have read before. This is chaos made prose. This book is dangerous. Beware! A poisonous mix of SF and horror, the resulting brew is intoxicating.
If you are easily disturbed you had best leave this book alone. Seductiveness and horror battle it out on these pages and it is yet uncertain which shall win. If you have courage read this book and decide the battle.

Translation Supplied By Quentin S Crisp


Before you can appreciate his novel SZMONHFU you have to identify with the author, Hertzan Chimera. Therefore, I am going probe inside Hertzan Chimera' s psyche and enlighten you in an exclusive review of both the author and the book SZMONHFU. "Hold on to your hats!"

It is essential you are prepared to read SZMONHFU and comprehend the diverse style and tone it is written in. Not just anyone can pull this caliber of writing off and conjure up a series impeccable sex and carnage because they fear the mediocre views of "what is acceptable, tolerated, and appreciated" from "politically correct" markets, readers, and editors. No bars held, Mr. Chimera lets it all hang out. (So to speak) Hertzan's Chimera's extraordinary artwork, also is not for the weak tummy, weak mind, or the squeamish. His outrageous work of genius is only for the open minded and the unhindered. You will use your mind when you look into the coverart of SZMONHFU. That alone, will give you the frame of mind of Mr. Chimera and would even spawn a humbling reaction out of Picasso. Hertzan Chimera's perception is exposed in his story SZMONHFU.

From his 1990 release of "Red Hedz" ~SZMONFHU~ continued with his main character, Jane Louxis. Jane is a lip-smacking, mouth-watering character that has very loose morals but isn't always what you think she is. And her sexual liaisons are usually met with a gruesome outcome. The story is filled with brutal deaths teeming with blood and gore. Although, Chimera spends a lot of time in describing events in excessive detail you do not lose the mental picture of what is taking place in the scene. One factor I am convinced of, while you read about Jane and where she came from and what she is about; you ie the reader will be in awe at the intelligence Chimera struts, in his sequence of events that leads to each deadly encounter revolving around voluptuous Jane Louxis.

EraserHead Press pubbed SZMONHFU (PAPERBACK) and I take my hat off to them. They know when a writer is endowed with an outstanding ability to write a well crafted story and tell it in any flavor he so chooses. Without having to sugar-coat the visuals so it is easier for the fainthearted to swallow. EraserHead Press acknowledges that storytelling belongs to the person responsible for creating the words that entertains and excites its readers, the author. In this case, Hertzan Chimera.

You will not be sorry you read this work from such a artistic novelist. The only thing you will be regretting, is you hadn't read it sooner. Get SZMONHFU and dig those teeth into the meat of this delicious treat and enjoy the vein it is written in.

?~Brutal Dreamer DVDEmpire/Double Dragon Publishing


Sick! Sick! Sick! And that's the most polite way I can describe this twisted pile of words.
Jane Templeton Rice - a science project gone wrong? Some type of alien black widow? She leaves in her wake the mangled bloodied corpses of men she's had sick, revolting sex with. Sex so disgusting it actually nauseates the reader. The poor truck driver was the luckiest male out of the bunch. His innards were scattered all over the parking lot of a diner by three thugs, before Jane could get to him with her own brand of horror. If the author's intent was to leave the reader with a permanent horrified, sickening look frozen on their faces, he succeeded. After a 120 disgusting pages, where I spent on the verge of puking, I had to quit reading. I couldn't stomach anymore. I wanted nothing more than to return to my semi-boring life where it was clean and fresh. I no longer wanted to spend time in Mr. Chimera's twisted world.

"SZMONHFU" is truly one of the most disgusting books I've ever had the misfortune of reading. There may very well be an audience for this type of work, but it's not me.

Review #1 By Margaret Marr

We enter the surreal world of Jane Tempelton Rice abruptly. She is confused, and she sees what no one else sees. She's also being interrogated by the police. We are afraid because we don't know what happened. And Jane doesn't know what happened. Not really. She sees images, hears sounds, sees color and light and we're never quite sure what is real to anyone but Jane. Jane is a super model, a beautiful icon in a world of ugliness and evil. The contrasts of her day to day working world where she makes the unreal real and the real is too horrid to accept make for harrowing discomfort for you, the reader.

It's like a bad wreck on the side of the road, you have to look. Jane backtracks to some time before the arrest when she goes home with a man from a bar. The sex is described in unrelenting, graphic and still unreal detail. The man does not survive the encounter. The images are horrific and gripping.

But did it really happen?

Next, Paul, an artist, saves Jane's life in truly graphic, dramatic fashion and we are hurled headlong into another dreamscape of sex and death. They play in each other's realities as children play in a soiled sandbox. Things become even more confused when Paul's old girlfriend shows up. Jane is not about to allow this distraction into their surreal world of sexual perversions. Another death. When Paul has served his purpose he, too, must
die. And Paul dies in agony.

If you can follow the convoluted trail of grisly imagery you will find yourself caught up in a story of almost unbearable pain. Jane is destined to destroy anyone and anything she touches with her emotions. Her emotional pain becomes a weapon that tortures and kills. Her mental state of denial and partial amnesia serve to protect her from her own monstrous reality. See Jane run. See Jane love. See Jane kill.

Review #2 By Kathleen Troutman


Do not adjust your mind.On second thoughts, scratch that. Maybe you should. Eraserhead Press, known for their strange taste in fiction, have at long last taken on board a purveyor of the very strangest fiction known to exist, anywhere - a man I like to refer to simply as The Godfather of Weird. That's right, following on from the success of his Neurone Fry-up chapbook from EH, Hertzan Chimera (otherwise known as Mike Philbin) has been let loose on the public in novel form. Thirteen years in the writing, and billed as a prequel/sequel to his cult hit from Creation Books, Red Hedz, SZMONHFU (pronounced, I'm reliably informed, 'Je me'en fous') is everything you'd expect from Hertzan, and more. As he says in the introduction, hang on to your hats.

So, where to begin? Well in SZMONHFU we at last get the life story of Red Hedz protagonist Jane, related in jump-cut sequences and flashbacks spanning many years and many different locations (most notably places in Britain, America and France). A model with a television addiction, she eventually hooks up with an artist from Nottingham called Paul. But nothing about Jane is as it appears - especially the bizarre things that tend to happen when she has sex.Usually resulting in some fatality or another. Put it this way, she makes the alien in Species look like a pussycat at times.

But none of this seems to be under her control. As she goes on, taking more lovers (like David Price - ?! - the truck driver, later turned private detective), the narrative gets more and more crazy, revealing her link with the evolution of mankind and an evil race of people known as the SZMONHFU.

Or maybe she's a genetically engineered person, the result of governmental tampering in a project called Zenith - because she's also been tracked by a dwarf agent called Fipps and scientists who may have helped to create her. The explanation, when it comes, will either make everything clear to you or confuse you even further. But when I tell you it has to do with dolphin logic and gaps in reality, you'll certainly be intrigued.

If you're a fan of directors like David Lynch and David Cronenberg, then you'll be in seventh heaven reading this adventure (indeed, certain parts of it read like a screenplay). And even if you're not, I can't recommend it highly enough, simply because the author has tried his damnedest to be different; something I really admire in this day and age of simplistic storylines and copycat novelists. Sure, there will be times when you'll be reading this and not know where the hell you are (like the Escher comparison made later on in the book - 'IN THE UNIVERSE OF HIS ART, UP BECOMES DOWN, IN OUT, SWANS BECOME FISH, DOGS MEN.'), but I'd rather not know where I am in a really absorbing and ingeniously interesting book, than know precisely where I am in a boring run-of-the-mill novel.

On almost every page you'll encounter something to delight you. Whether it be the way the English language is manipulated (I love the new swearword usage of 'Shag'), the way prose 'laws' are bent to the point of almost breaking - you'll find no speech marks in this baby - or names thrown into the mix just for the fun of it (you'll also come across characters called Clive Barker or Jonathan Miller). But for me, the best bits are those sentences that come out of the blue and really do the business. Stuff like: 'The Incompetent Detective knew that somehow, against all reason or logic, his Jane had materialised out of the forehead of this Adjusco Woman.' (Dali eat your heart out) and 'Christ, I've got the DT's bad. It's not the vodka.

I can handle the vodka. It's the sugar puffs that get me. 45% pure cane.' Here is an author who makes Burroughs look like a social realist, and for that reason alone you simply have to check out SZMONHFU (oh, and for the Bacon-inspired cover painting by HC as well of course). Just don't come crying to me when the furniture starts talking to you, that's all. The Hoo-Hoo are coming, the Hoo-Hoo are coming!

Reviewed By Paul Kane


Before I start this review I'll have to qualify what I'm about to say. I like my science fiction in two main varieties. The Golden Age variety as written by Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak, Lester Del Rey, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke and similarly by later authorts such as Mike Resnick; and modern hard SF by such authors as Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, and Arthur C. Clarke (again?).

What I generally don't go for in SF is the more chaotic, sexually charged, violent SF as is exhibited in this book. This is not to say that I am now going to say that this book is terrible - it isn't - or recommend that you avoid it - you shouldn't.

Indeed there is a lot contained in this book's pages to recommend it. The author's style is very good, his characterisations and desciptions very evocative and his ideas certainly seem to be original. If you can cope a little better with the subject matter then you will almost certainly enjoy this The story starts with our lead character Jane, being interviewed by two police officers who are getting frustrated at their lack of progress in interviewing her, when she disappears through a solid wall. This is but the first of many jumps between times and places that she experiences in a manner beyond her control. This is not the only thing that happens around her, as is illustrated when she encounters an artist in Nottingham called Paul, for strange and often very bloody things happen when she has sex. And that's just the start of it...

I'm reminded here of 'Naked Lunch' in places (both the book and film) and certainly if you are a fan of either David Cronenberg's films or William S. Burroughs's writing then you will probably find a lot here that will please you. Hertzan Chimera's usage of the language here is occassionally sublime and his sideways steps away from any reality I know will keep you on your toes when reading this. Just take one look at the cover image - it'll give you a good feeling for the story.

So, although as I stated at the start of this review, this is not 'my thing'. However I can imagine this book being just the kind of thing for a lot of surreal SF fans out there, for this book certainly is out there.

Reviewed By Steve Mazey


According to the author, the story involves transmutative sex and extradimensional threat and Jane's quest to find the Holy Grail of identity in a universe devoid of morals. The best I can figure is that Jane, the predominant character, is a machine-enhanced woman who has the ability to transform herself, albeit not entirely under her own volition. Other characters include Paul Kansai, one of Jane's lovers, and his ex-girlfriend, Susan Brown. Keiran Fipps is another metamorph who aids in the escape of Jane from a facility in which she is held, watched over by Anne Dobson, the warden. Dave Price is a truck driver.

Still with me? Good. Here's the point where I would tell what these people wanted, how they became who they are, from where the terror comes, and why they clash in warped animal-twisted lust and carnage. Sorry, but I can't, because I have no idea. Your guess is probably better than mine. The writing is phenomenal. It's some of the densest vocabulary and image-rich language I've read in a long while. I usually only find this sort of writing in poetry, which usually tries to make a larger picture from a sparse economy of words. Complete sentences are optional here, but there's enough subjects and predicates to piece together what goes where.

Descriptions of sex, rage, fear, and violence are intricate and involved, and those four always seem to show up simultaneously. I like the uncertain world Chimera structures where reality is a myth, but it makes for some difficult reading. I continually asked if this or that really happened, but there weren't many answers. Eventually with stories written in this sort of style, I start ignoring anything that looks like a fantasy or dream to try to get back to the real narrative. Also, the technique belittles every other scene because it's not certain if the reader should hold any credence in what the narrator tells. The reader is along for the ride, but it's a bit irritating not to be able to trust the storyteller.

Yet with this novel, if reality is so gelatinous, the reader may not be able to brush aside entire segments just to get on with the story. The difficulty here is that the scenes, dreams, and fantasies may have really happened, just not affecting the characters in an obvious way. I may be trapped in a tradition of storytelling that encompasses a singular reality in which events happen and characters react, with occasional nonsense coming in between. This novel makes me doubt that perspective will work.

My background in science fiction is a mix of movies, literature, and sludge. I worship the greats from the days of Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Bradbury, Asimov, Sturgeon, Heinlein, Ellison. I crave offbeat stuff like Solaris, the Russian counterpart to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I dig camp like Quark and Flash Gordon serials. SZMONHFU borrows from some, but doesn't really fit anywhere in what I know. This is a good thing. I look forward to tackling the rest of it, and expanding the breadth of how I can perceive the events of a story, and the world in which it happens.

Reviewed from chapter excerpts by A. Lark


An interesting story divided into many little sub-parts. I don't quite see the point of it all, and at times it seems to drag itself and just carry on in a way when you're looking for something more. It's still a rather decent effort, and the story itself - the plot, climax, conclusion - beats that of most anything out there right now in your local book store or on the New York Times' Best Sellers' list.

SZMONHFU (Excerpt)

Jane Templeton Rice is the highest paid fashion model in her industry. Her whole life stretches out in front of her like extravagent courses in a Chinese banquet. The night of the Gaultier show why did Jane go 'walkabout'?

We follow this delicate young redhead on a blistering erotic adventure of discovery. But we soon find out that Jane has a problem. Her ability to dredge up the very deepest fantasies from her lovers is both an erotic firestorm and a millstone around her slender neck. How pure the intensions of her lovers must be. How honourable. For one small slip of conscience will result in a filthy bloodbath of man-raped sexual identity unwoven. And what of the SZMONHFU, the alien race of super beings, what is their part in Jane's illustrious future?

SZMONHFU in many ways tells the tale of Pinocchio - but in the biogenetic horrotica world of Hertzan Chimera that impending maturity takes on a haunted inevitability stripped from the original kids' story.

"Sick! Sick! Sick! SZMONHFU is truly one of the most disgusting books I?ve ever had the misfortune of reading." - AAS REVIEWS

"The writing is phenomenal." - MIND CAVIAR

"Here is an author who makes Burroughs look like a social realist." - TERROR TALES REVIEWS