This has been one of the most challenging years I’ve ever experienced, personally and professionally. 2014 has contained losses — some we expected and some we never saw coming. 2014 has contained reams of bad news dropped upon, oh look, reams of bad news.
I wonder: was the world always like this and we just never knew, but now we can’t not know, because we are constantly connected to a world larger than our neighborhoods; we are global now, “living in the future” we say, watching as events half the world away impact our daily lives.
We carry the world in our pockets — the news is always there, sought or not. No stumbling out to a newspaper box to get the headlines, they’re already stacked in your phone. The news is no longer a sound bite on television — you can watch in real time as life, terrible and glorious life, unfolds in streets across the world. And that world is huge and often terrible, and overwhelming.
Time and again, because of that, I come back to short fiction.
A short story allows me to narrow my focus and slow my breath — I did this as a kid in school, too, though only in looking back did I realize it for what it was. For a few precious pages, I don’t have to think about what is happening anywhere else; for half an hour, I can sink into a wholly new world — or a hidden aspect of our own — and vanish.
If you find yourself needing to pause and take a breath, I hope these four stories allow that. They explore loss and recovery in equal measure–all the thistles and dandelions growing up through Isa bloomed at once, out of season, in a riotous bouquet. These four stories close out an amazing Shimmer year, which means our printed annual is on the horizon. These four stories encompass a hope that we carry on the face of strange doings; that we keep taking the next step, even if we don’t know exactly where it leads.
As 2014 winds down, be excellent to each other, and remember to breathe.
E. Catherine Tobler
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|E. Catherine Tobler’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her first novel, Rings of Anubis, is now available. Follow her on Twitter @ECthetwit or her website, http://www.ecatherine.com.|