Science fiction--speculative fiction--is a literature of present and future. It is a lens that renders today's landscape of human hope and fear, love and hate into bright new colors, so that one is suddenly startled and surprised by the blue sky that had become so ordinary as to cease to be truly visible at all. Now we see it clearly. Sharply. We find we are looking at it with alien eyes.
Perhaps it is time we looked more often through this alien lens. Perhaps we have become too complacent with our familiar postwar prosperous universe. These books and others like them can stretch that complacency. They offer more possibilities than answers, and they ask questions that are easier not to contemplate. But it may be more than high time to contemplate them. If we don't deal with our onrushing tomorrows ahead of time, we will be forced to deal with them as they land in our laps.
Deborah Ross Wheeler '68 has also achieved success in the field of science fiction. She's been writing SF since the mid-eighties and has had two novels published: Jaydium, with "wonderful giant gastropoid aliens" (Daw, 1993), and Northlight (Daw, 1995). Several of her short stories have been on the preliminary ballot for Nebula Awards. She's been working on a book called Collaborators that deals with "the politics of sexual dimorphism from the point of view of a hermaphroditic species." Wheeler says that she thanks, "all of her teachers at Reed for encouraging me never to hesitate to tackle the really weird stuff."