4.1 8
by Chris Dolley

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"I have read a lot of science fiction and have gone through tons of plots, so when I find one that is unique I certainly take notice. Resonance is one of those books that has it all. Interesting plot with plenty of mysteries and twists, characters you care about, and solid writing that strings it all together." — Jeffrey Miller

Graham Smith is a 33 year old


"I have read a lot of science fiction and have gone through tons of plots, so when I find one that is unique I certainly take notice. Resonance is one of those books that has it all. Interesting plot with plenty of mysteries and twists, characters you care about, and solid writing that strings it all together." — Jeffrey Miller

Graham Smith is a 33 year old office messenger. To the outside world he's an obsessive compulsive mute - weird but harmless. But to Graham Smith, it's the world that's weird. And far from harmless. He sees things other can't...or won't. He knows that roads can change course, people disappear, office blocks migrate across town - all at night when no one's looking.

Only by following a rigid routine can he lessen these effects. If he walks the same route to work every morning and catches the same train, and keeps himself to himself, then there's a good chance his house will still be where he left it when he returns home in the evening.

Then he meets Annalise Mercado.

Annalise Mercado hears voices. Sometimes she thinks they're spirit guides, sometimes she thinks she's crazy. But then they start telling her about Graham Smith, the danger he's in, and how only she can save him. So begins the story of two people whose lives appear fragmented across alternate realities. And how, together, they hold the key to the future of a billion planets...


"Resonance is a tremendously accomplished book ... and immediately raises Dolley into the ranks of writers to watch. It's a head-over-heels romp through ever-changing realities, crammed with great set-pieces, excellent hooks and some nice one-liners." — Keith Brooke, Infinity Plus

"This is one of the most original new science fiction books I have ever read. In fact, as an inspired new take on a familiar SF idea it's original enough to stand comparison with "The Time Traveler's Wife" or "Memoirs of an Invisible Man. If it is as big a hit as it deserves, it may well be this book which becomes the standard by which SF stories about ... are judged." — Marshall Lord

" get carried along thinking the story is going one way and off it veers in another direction. I don't know about you but I like being surprised by a story. I enjoy having an author keep me interested in the story and caring about the characters. Dolley does a great job of pulling all the elements together to keep you reading. Highly recommended." — Gayle Surrette, SFRevu

"An exceptional first novel." — Robert M. Tilendis, Rambles

"RESONANCE is outstanding, creating unique, believable protagonists and compelling readers to follow along in an outstanding adventure." — Midwest Book Review

"I loved Resonance ... the writing is clever, the concepts are ingenious, and the characterizations are first class. Both Graham Smith and Annalise Mercado stick with you as people long after the book is finished. And with all the stories I read, that is amazing." — Jerry Wright, Bewildering Stories

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6.70(w) x 4.20(h) x 1.20(d)

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By Chris Dolley

Baen Books

Copyright © 2005 Chris Dolley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4165-0912-7

Chapter One

Graham Smith locked the Post Room door, turning the key clockwise as far as it would go. He paused, counting his breaths-one, two-then turned the key counterclockwise. Another pause, more breaths, it had to be four this time, four was good, all even numbers were but four especially so. He repeated the procedure, action for action, breath for breath. Lock, unlock; breathe and count. Twice with the right hand and twice with the left. Only then could he leave work, satisfied that the door was indeed locked and all was well with the world.

Not that it would be for long. You can't create a world in seven days without cutting corners.

"Are you going to the Princess Louise tonight?"

A woman's voice. Anne from Small Businesses? He didn't turn to find out, he knew the question wasn't for him. People didn't talk to Graham Smith unless they had to. Or they were new. Before someone took them aside for a friendly chat, thinking themselves out of earshot, thinking that just because someone was quiet they must be deaf as well. But he'd heard them, heard the whispered warnings by the coffee machine. Don't bother with Graham, he'll never answer. I've worked here fifteen years and never got a word out of him. Don't get me wrong, he's not dangerous or anything. Just weird. Weird but harmless.

Thewoman brushed past, not giving Graham a second look as he turned and dropped the Post Room key into his jacket pocket. He'd been right. It had been Anne, now deep in conversation with the new girl from personnel, planning their night out, eyes flashing, words dancing between them. Conversation came so easily to some people. A tap they could turn on and off without ever worrying what would come spewing out.

Something Graham Smith had never mastered. He'd barely spoken since his ninth birthday and that was twenty-four years ago.

He followed them into the lobby, watched as they waved to Andy at the door, barely breaking sentence as they wished him a good night and pushed through onto the pavement outside.

Graham carefully placed the Post Room key on the reception desk with his right hand-Mondays were always right-handed days-and smiled towards the guard's left shoulder. Eye contact was unlucky whatever the day.

He stepped outside, blinking into the early summer evening. London on a sunny day in June-bright summer clothes, red buses and black taxis. Noise and bustle all around.

He turned right, striding out along the pavement, matching his step to the paving stones, assiduously avoiding the cracks.

Don't step on the cracks-everyone knew the sense of that. One of the first things you learned as a child. But too many people forgot. Or didn't care. Graham Smith cared. He knew that paving stones set the cadence of a street; that cracks regulated the stride length and set the resonance that kept everything stable and harmonious. Step on the cracks and the street slipped out of kilter. Imperceptibly at first. Minute changes around the edges, a new person living at number thirty-three, a strange car outside number five. Step on the cracks too often and ... well, anything could happen. He'd seen houses turned into blocks of flats overnight. Parades of shops come and go. Terraces demolished, office blocks erected. All overnight when no one was looking.

The world was a far more fragile place than people realized. And every now and then a thread would work loose and something or someone would unravel.

A cloud of diesel smoke spilled out from a bus revving away from its stop. Graham stepped diagonally to avoid it, stretching three pavers over. A few steps more and he had to change lanes again, the pavement filling with commuters and tourists. He sidestepped, jumped and picked his way through the crowd. One eye on his feet and one a few paving stones ahead, searching out the next obstacle.

Which was when he saw her.

She was walking in front of him-four paving stones ahead. Four paving stones exactly, her feet studiously avoiding the cracks, just like Graham. Except that she didn't have to dart back and forth to avoid the other pedestrians-they moved aside for her. He watched, fascinated, as a group of men split apart to let her pass, turning as they did so, their eyes scanning every inch of her, their attention wandering so much that Graham had to sidestep quickly to avoid a collision.

The young woman walked on, indifferent, not looking left nor right.

Graham was fascinated. She flowed along the road, catlike, not walking so much as dancing with the street, her feet matching perfectly the rhythm of the pavement.

Who was she?

And why hadn't he seen her before? He walked this road every day, always at the same time. Was she a tourist? He could see no telltale sign. No camera, no map, not even a bag. Her hands swung loose by her side. Elegant hands, long and slim, like her. Everything about her resonated elegance ... except ... except now that he looked closer he could see that her clothes were dirty-her short brown dress looked like it had been slept in for weeks. Or was that the fashion these days? And her hair was badly dyed, a metallic red streaked with black ... or was that dirt?

He followed her, couldn't take his eyes off her, as she cut a swath through the packed pavement. He watched her from her long, bare legs to her streaky, tousled top. She was like a sinuous metronome, clicking out an unchanging beat, looking straight ahead and not deviating an inch.

Something else caught his eye. What was that above her right ankle? A bruise? No, a tattoo. Something in blue. He quickened his pace, he had to know everything about this girl. He closed the distance between them to three paving slabs, two. He could almost make it out. A bird? Yes, a bird. A tattoo of a blue bird.

He was so engrossed he almost missed his tube station. The entrance loomed on his right like a deep, dark tunnel. The girl walked on. Graham hovered by the entrance, hoping she'd stop or turn.

She didn't.

He had a choice. To take the tube like every other day ... or follow the girl. Curiosity begged him to follow, instinct said no-he had a routine, routines had to be followed, not girls.

He looked one way and then the other. He couldn't decide. He watched her bobbing head disappearing into the crowd, he peered into the shadow of the foyer; the turnstiles, the ticket machines. He looked back.

She'd gone.

* * *

Forty minutes later, Graham was counting the paces as he walked between the post box on the corner to the near gatepost of his home at number thirty-three. A ritual he'd started four years ago when he'd first moved to Oakhurst Drive. A ritual that demanded he arrive exactly on the sixty-sixth step. Sixty-sixth step, left foot, no room for error or bad things were certain to follow.

Fifty-five, fifty-six, he passed next door's laburnum dead on schedule, his feet rising and falling on the dusty grey tarmac. A light wind kept him company, swirling eddies of sweet wrappers around his feet.

He arrived at the gate exactly on the sixty-sixth step, his left toe precisely in line with the inner edge of the gatepost. He turned, swivelling on the ball of his left foot, unlatched the gate with his right hand and walked through. Two steps and turn, breathe and reach, he took the gate in his left hand and swung it gently back and forth-once, twice, three times-then let it close.

He listened for the latch to click shut then gave it a gentle tug to check with his right hand-it was a Monday-then, satisfied, turned, relaxed and ambled-not even bothering to count the steps-to the door of his prewar pebble-dashed semidetached house.

He was home.

Another day safely negotiated.

He took out his key and pushed it into the lock.

It wouldn't turn.

He tried again.

It still wouldn't turn. He tried with his left hand, both hands. He took the key out, counted to four and tried again.


Was it stuck? Was it ...

A sudden intake of breath. Not again. Not so soon. He'd been so careful this time!

A muffled sound came from inside the house. Footsteps on the stairs, someone coming down, someone inside his house, the house he shared with no one, the house no one ever visited.

A shape appeared, distorted by the frosted glass door. A woman's voice on the other side, nervous, uncertain.

"Is that you, Rob?"

Graham froze, his hand still clutching the key in the lock. It was happening again.

The shape filled the glass door, he could make out a hand moving towards the latch.

"Who's there?" The voice was louder this time, a hint of panic. Graham withdrew the key, trying to be quiet, trying to keep calm while he backed away from the door. It began to open, he turned, ran, fumbled with the gate, forced himself through.

A voice came from the doorstep. "Who are you? What do you want?"

He ran, flying along the pavement, his breaths coming short and fast, his lungs burning, his eyes watering with the strain. And this time he didn't count or care where he stepped. It was too late for that.

Bad things had already happened.


Excerpted from Resonance by Chris Dolley Copyright ©2005 by Chris Dolley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Chris Dolley was born in Bournemouth, England on September 30th, 1954. Several attempts to educate him were made by staff at Winton and Moordown, Bournemouth School and, finally, Plymouth Polytechnic. But he was too fast, graduating at the age of 20 with an honours degree in Geography. In 1974 he formed the Free Cornish Army, who declared Cornwall an independent nation. The humor magazine Punch called the affair a ?splendid hoax.? After 13 years as a computer programmer for the British Home Office, he founded Randomberry Games in 1981, probably the first UK computer game company. In 1995, Chris moved to France, and he and his wife now live on a farm he has renovated in the Normandy-Maine Regional Park. In between the plumbing and roofing at his new home, he appeared in the films Joan of Arc and Sade, though his role in the former ended up on the cutting room floor (he hopefully awaits the Director's Cut). His mystery novel An Unsafe Pair of Hands was short listed for the Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award for best first mystery.

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Resonance 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But as a whole found it unsatisfying. Going back and forth between paralelle worlds and repetitious scenes was frustrating as it seemed to stifle progression. Just not my cup of tea.
Cromag More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book! Graham Smith lives in London and is an office messenger. He delivers mail and memos from office to office. He doesn't interact with anyone, and he doesn't speak. He hasn't spoken since he was a child. He counts the squares in the sidewalk when he walks home -- he never steps on cracks. He has a rigid set of procedures for doing everything. He appears Autistic, but he's not. His perseverations are a defense mechanism that allow him to deal with a changing world -- A rapidly changing world. Streets can change their locations overnight. People disappear, and no one seems to miss them. New people appear, and everyone seems to know them. He's never sure that his address will be the same in the evening as it was in the morning. Then one young woman goes out of her way to meet him. Her name is Annalise and she came all the way from America. She's from Boston. Duluth. Boise. She has long, black hair. She's a redhead. She's blond. She dyed her hair bright orange. He takes her luggage to his home. She's staying at a B&B. She's paranoid and stays in a large cardboard carton in an alley. She tells him he's being watched. Someone wants to kill him. She came to help. He finds listening devices and cameras, hidden in his home. He destroys them. They're back, in the same locations, the next day. There are no new Science Fiction concepts in this book, but the genius is the way the concepts are handled and resolved. The first third of the book is brilliant and the final scenes are very, very good. The author gets off track for a while in the middle. In particular, he tries to make a forced analogy with the theory of evolution that just does not work. Also, he goes into some weird details of genetics that don't hold up. Both of these scenes took me out of the story for a while, but the rest of the story is relentlessly good. The book would be much better, and a little shorter, if these sections were just dropped. Still, this book is highly recommended! Some notes: bear in mind that this takes place in London. Cell phones are called mobiles, elevators are lifts, the subway is the tube, etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sehlat More than 1 year ago
I read this when it first came out and was utterly enthralled. It grabbed me from the first page as I, along with the hero/heroes, had to figure out what was happening to him/them, why, and just how dangerous was/were the path/the many paths he/they had to traverse as he/they fought to prevent the Ultimate Collapse. Superb plot, wonderful characterization and an involving story all turned into a thrilling race to the (hopefully not) the end of the world(s). This is a book that is an absolute cannot-put-down, and is worth every bit of the time put into reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Electrogruve More than 1 year ago
I started this book and couldn't stop reading it. It does not let up for even one second. Very well paced, the science is believable and the main character, Graham, is likable. I honestly had no idea when I started to read this book what it was about. That made this even more enjoyable and a total surprise of a plot. I highly recommend this if you want a near-future, light-on-the-science, seat-of-your-pants, kind of book. Enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually read one long hard-science or military sci-fi series after another. But, between a 3 to 8 book series I'll pick up a singleton if it looks like it might be something fun and fast-paced. Resonance is just that: fun, quirky and fast-paced as a Disneyland thrill ride! I won't go into the story - read the synopses, buy the book and in about 10 pages you'll be caught up in it. And, you won't want to put it down so best not to start it late at night. You won't sleep! It's that good. I never heard of Chris Dolley before, but I'll be picking up his latest, Shift. Definitely! And, btw, I'm no big fan of alternate reality books. This one actually make sense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I kept reading and reading, didn't want to put the book down. Thanks BAEN, picked it up at a Sci/Fi event this month.