Author Note on Browsers

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Browsers was first Published in Challenging Destiny #5, January 1999

IT'S NO accident that I wanted this story to lead the collection. Because so much of my life has involved surrounding myself with books, this is a tale that is still very close to my heart. That I could combine my passion for books with a "Twilight Zone" type of tale was a very satisfying exercise. I'm also tickled by the fact that I was able to build in a reference to one of my favourite novels, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

This tale was inspired by one of my own quests to explore used bookstores in a "strange" city. At the time, my wife at the time and I were living in Ottawa and were visiting her mother in Hamilton. While mother and daughter made plans to go on an all-day shopping expedition I decided to go on my own little quest. I took the Yellow Pages and a map of the city and made a note of all the book and magazine shops in the area. I then set out to visit them all.

It was during this trip that I encountered the used bookstore that inspired this tale. It appeared to be a small corner shop, but inside it was an interesting catacomb of inter-connected rooms that seemed to go on forever. One of the "rooms" and shelves were in the middle of being built while I wandered through the shop, but my imagination had already spawned its own ideas of how new rooms were constructed here.

I purposely didn't name the narrator, nor identify their sex. My goal was not just to allow the reader to identify with this book lover but to be able to step directly into their role, whether they themselves were male or female. The only indication that I was successful with this was when I saw the illustrations by Janet Chui, which appeared with my story in Challenging Destiny. Janet picked up on this subtle cue and kept up the masquerade - her excellent illustrations, perfectly matching the mood and sense of mystery I'd intended, didn't reveal the narrator's face and, in a long flowing overcoat, allowed the narrator to remain asexual. Thanks Janet.

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