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"Most readers come to see the show, not to watch the stage manager take bows in front of the footlights."

—Stephen King, Night Shift.

I'll keep this short.

Story collections present two dangers to the buyer. They may be a re-packaging of old material under new titles, so nearly all the stories can be found in other collections. Or they may contain good stories padded out with unpublishables, dead dogs that no editor would buy. It's easy to find examples of both these ways of cheating the reader.

I can't tell you how good the stories are in this collection—for that you have to read them. But I can guarantee that none of them appeared in the earlier collection, VECTORS, and all of them were bought by respected editors. Maybe I should also add that of the 356 pages in this book, 281 were either unpublished or committed when VECTORS came out, so this is not the sweepings left over from a first collection.

One thing is common to VECTORS. I still believe that a bad story cannot be improved by a self-serving or explanatory introduction to it. I will instead provide brief afterwords that aim to provide perspective on how or why the story came out the way it did. But the story's the thing, the whole thing.

—CHARLES SHEFFIELD, October 8th, 1980

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