Does time exist as a separate dimension? Does it have a unique place with definable limits in space? Does it move independently according to its own purpose? Or does it only move when other things move, completely dependent on prevailing conditions and binding dimensions in its surrounding space-a causal result bound to the whole? Perhaps it’s just a simpleminded construct humans have concocted to explain the inexplicable. Is it vaguely possible that it’s a set of branes slightly out of sync and we may pass from one to the next at will? Maybe it’s a simple kink in dimensions that can be crossed by anyone walking in precisely the right direction. It could be that it’s just a mental state altered simply by a minor amount of imagination applied correctly. Perhaps it is no more than a drug- or mantra-induced change of mental state-something hallucinated-something seen but unseeable. Or is there more to it than we can fathom? In the world of physics, all of this-and much more-is being looked into by serious, conservative scientists as well as those with their mental equipment more loosely adjusted-or even unfastened completely, their brains rolling about like marbles in an empty railroad freight car.
Whatever time is, it is a concept that has fascinated our species since we became capable of contemplating more than just our navels or being eaten by hungry predators. We consider the future, the present, and the past-how they may all relate and...interrelate. We wonder what it all means or if it means anything at all.
All of the following stories pursue these and other ideas-each in its own way. Time gives way to the authors’ imaginings in ways astounding. Amazing flights abound as they probe orthodox disciplines in physics combined with unorthodox musings, stretching the envelope all the way to the breaking point, or take fanciful flights of mind into the unknown realm of ethereal time, gleefully, sometimes flippantly breaking the bonds of "real" science-whatever that means. There are even times when the concept of movement through time is naught but a ploy-means to an end. But they are always asking, "What if...? Just, what if...?" Then, they answer their own questions with trips up, down, through, across or outside the time and dimension lines, crawling cautiously from one time line to another, being ever vigilant so as not to fall off in the wrong where or when. But beware, these stories were designed around the surprise of twist endings, going places unknown, unforeseen. They have been written specifically to catch you looking in some other direction. Some are subtle, others-just this side of a Force 5 tornado-will send you careening through space-time to another place or a different when-perhaps both-and we cannot ensure you safe passage. From now on, you are on your own. No guiding hands. No protective wings. No way to say that, once you’re into a story, you’ll ever come out. Sorry, that’s just the way it is, was, and will be-no guarantees.