“I dreamed of moments in glass boxes, forever stretching out as far as I could see. And I was outside and in between, trapped, unable to move into the scenes.”
That is a lyric from a song I wrote a few years ago. As I remember, I wrote it on a ukulele that I tucked into my suitcase and took with me on a family holiday to Spain. The song itself never ‘made it’ to live performance or broadcast of any kind, residing instead in my archive of unused compositions that help me to construct a working memory of life and my artistic development, a kind of melodic diary. The reason I am mentioning it here is the lyrics, and what they mean to the collection of stories you are about to read.
You see I really did dream of moments in glass boxes. The precise details fade with time, though I remember the morning I woke from it, feeling wrenched away from a deep, existential dream that overtakes reality and makes it seem a little dimmer when it returns. In this dream, I was disembodied, watching moments from my life, and other lives, playing out in glass boxes suspended in a white void. They were randomly distributed and stretched forever around me in all dimensions. I had the feeling that if I could stand outside that place and look in, it would seem like a dense material, and that to be there amongst the moments was to be like an observer in a microscopic universe, such as we see when we zoom into seemingly flat surfaces only to reveal they are like mountains and gullies, a hidden landscape.
But it wasn’t the dream that inspired the stories in ‘The Dimension Scales’: the glass boxes just happened to become interwoven thematically as the collection developed. The void became a space I could refer to when I realised what the repercussions of the eponymous ‘Dimension Scales’ might be, and how it influenced the ‘possible worlds’ that constitute the bulk of the collection. This introduction may make more sense once you have read on, or it may not: it is usually my desire to let you decide in such matters.
My intention with this collection has been to create a body of stand-alone stories that can be read in isolation, but that still have links to each other, some direct, some indirect, some fleeting and inconsequential, some causal and integral, some temporal, some abstract. When deciding on the order of the stories I wrote the title of each on a Post-it note and placed them on a white board. After much deliberation I decided to draw lines between each story that linked or referenced another in some way. I found that indirectly all but one story have some link (I will leave that to you to find out); of more interest, I found the glass boxes were back. Granted, they were made of paper, glue and ink, but those little rectangles with a tangle of arrows that bound them in unchangeable ways no matter how much I rearranged them were something close to what that dream was about.
Even deletion or destruction of the moments, the stories, represented now as they are in bytes and on paper, will not get rid of the lines that bind them - for me at least (not unless selective lobotomies become available on the NHS or I lose my mind). But even that would still not obliterate the moment in time, or some little part of matter that clings on unheard. So it is with these stories, and all stories, and so it is with all moments and all that links them.
But what’s inside the boxes? Well, at first each idea that successfully grew into a narrative was in no way shaped by a preconceived theme or notion, other than my own attitudes and influences subconsciously evoked. It was only once a draft of each story existed and I started to consider the collection as a whole that I recognised certain themes had reared their heads. Metamorphosis and survival feature heavily. Exacerbation and social experimentation play a part, too. Identity is not far behind.
For this particular collection I owe a huge deal to such great writers as Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Will Self, Martin Amis and Philip K. Dick for unwittingly setting my aspirations, and my family, friends and the whole wide, weird world for my inspiration.
I hope you enjoy reading this collection and thank you for your precious time.
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