By the light of my bedside lamp, I open a ponderous tome, the Vandermeers’ Big Book of Science Fiction. My bookmark rests between pages 270 and 271 where I intend to plunge into Arthur C. Clarke’s story, “The Star.” The editors say it is one of his darkest visions, but I will go there anyway. I am obsessed with literary escapism. My happiest read is one that takes place anywhere but in my hometown and preferably in the speculative fantasy fiction genre, which I’ve coined if it’s not yet an accepted term.

I have read only one-quarter of this edition and it promises to last me through the coming new year. Other books interrupt my journey through The Big Book such as Chernow’s Hamilton (another daunting project), Italian novellas, Celtic fairy tales, and the occasional Jodi Picoult, Karen Russell, or Sarah Gristwood work. Some of my Facebook friends are writers who promote their work and ideas through a group called Scribes & Bibliophiles. These authors have written sci-fi or fantasy work that I read online.

My own writing reflects my obsession with fantasy, but—caveat lector—I rarely write about elves, fairies, and dragons in my short stories. These works fall under a different rubric, also the working title of a collection of short stories I am assembling. In Death-Defying Acts, the stories explore notional and surreal scenarios. You will understand my perspective more easily by reading one of my oddest stories “Arbor Vitae,” at