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It’s the not-to-distant year of 2020. Once, when this year was farther beyond the horizon, it carried promises of moon bases, flying cars, jet packs, and your very own robot servant.

Science fiction lied to us.

Instead of visiting Mars, we’re just burying our heads in our smart phones, like our ancestors did in newspapers and magazines. Worldwide communication means that people from across the planet can be a jerk to you because they just see you as a stream of text or a polygonal doll. All the information at your fingertips means you have to sort the scholarly articles and informed opinions from the graffiti and ignorant tirades.

Buena Vista is a tech center on the Texas Gulf coast whose foundation was built on those shaky hopes of yesteryear. Since its construction, that embarrassment (tinged with nostalgia) has been reinforced with practical, but comparatively boring innovations. Or at least, that’s how it looks to mortals. Those dreams still hold power in Buena Vista, if you can see what lies under the Mask.

Mortal science may not be enough to recreate the wonders (and horrors) of Hollywood science, but fae magic readily closes the gap. In the decayed theme park of Port Atlantis, the Goblin Market delivers on all those promises from the space age. The hob manning the “Chekov’s Guns” kiosk offers a lightsaber hedge-forged from golden sunlight. (“Is good against vampires!”) Anti-gravity cars are anchored in the parking lot. (Braking is… tricky.) Chirurgeons offer “enhancements” in the form of radioactive mutagens, cybernetic limbs, and more.

Science fiction and fantasy contain a sizable chunk of wish fulfillment. The Lords and Ladies of Faerie who take an interest in Buena Vista are all too happy to offer naive mortals the wonder they crave. Magic. Psychic powers. “Sufficiently advanced” technology. To the Gentry, it’s just a matter of presentation.

Though the Fae may take on wondrous and beautiful forms, they are invariably cruel, even when they try to be kind. Despite eons of studying humanity, they simply can’t empathize with other beings the way mortals can. To the solipsistic Gentry, the universe is filled with toys, tools, and threats, not “people.” Whatever passes for a Fae’s soul is built around the premise that a promise is a promise. The letter of the agreement and results matter, not the intentions or effort put into living up to it.

Changelings are the humans who, all too often, took a Fae up on their offer and were spirited away to Arcadia. Some were simply taken. Others just stumbled into the Hedge and got lost among the thorns. Still others were betrayed and sold to the Fae in exchange for some favor. In any case, some Changelings escape and make it back into the mortal world, forever changed, and discover that they are not alone in their suffering. They have a choice: Reclaim their old lives from the Fetch left in their place, or build a new life. All the while, they must remain vigilant against the machinations of the Gentry and their huntsmen, who may come to take them back. They also struggle against the confusion of their opened senses and the risk that they might become a mad horror like those they escaped.

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