Change defines us. Time ticks another moment lost thrusting
us forward even when we would prefer to look back. Some folks call for
change; some become lost within it; some seek control, some abandon, some
denial, and some merely witness, when facing it; some have adapted to change
in the distant past.
Science fiction and fantasy genres dramatize the human
response to change with heightened symbolic meaning. In this way they are
most like poetry. When experiencing realism we can feel comfortable in
a literal reading, even when a narrative overflows with metaphors and subtext
that warn us against such complacency. In contrast, fantastic genres force
us to feel discomfort, to see the unfamiliar in the previously familiar.
Things are not as they appear, or not only as they appear.
The stories in this collection will make every reader
a detective. The process of discovery will please, not just for glimmers
of truth perceived, but also for the artistic choices made, at times subtle,
flamboyant, risky, mysterious, and outright funny.
I became interested in seeing a theme of change represented
in sci-fi and fantasy short fiction in part because of popular debates
concerning politics, psychology, socioeconomics, and the environment. Many
fights are more about keeping things the same than about finding the best
answer and too often in real life the anxiety of influence trumps making
necessary change. I had long known the power of fantastic literature to
address those realms of experience we deny, for instance the power of dreams.
Dreams can exert an influence over us whether we remember them or not.
Fantastic literature forces us to remember.
The thirty sci-fi and fantasy stories in Altered States
will push our understanding of human nature and change to surprising new
levels. Organized in five subsections, "On Reality," "On
Place," "On Family," "On Romance," and "On
the Body," the short stories here speak to each other and challenge
our definitions of these essential categories of experience.
--Amy Locklin, Editor