“Unpossible”

This week’s published piece is “Unpossible” by Daryl Gregory, whose first novel, Pandemonium, won the Crawford Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Gregory’s other novels include the Philip K. Dick award finalist The Devil’s Alphabet and Raising Stony Mayhall, which was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal. The SF novel Afterparty is forthcoming.

This story comes from the short story collection Unpossible and Other Stories, which was named one of the best books of 2011 by Publisher’s Weekly. The stories previously appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionAsimov’s Science Fiction, and MIT Technology Review Magazine, and in such anthologies as The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Year’s Best Fantasy.

Unpossible is a story about all those children who had fantastic adventures in the “lands beyond”—and what happens when they hit 50, realize that life hasn’t lived up to the storybook ending, and try to go back.

  • Gregory weaves a tale of nostalgia, loss and longing together with unidentified but familiar characters. How does he inspire the same emotions in the reader that are present in the characters?
  • Each section of this story begins with a discovery; objects in the attic, the difficulty of getting lost as an adult, the farmhouse on the road, the boat in the empty seabed. How does Gregory use these to drive the reader forward, to propel them into the  plot?
  • Similarly, each section ends with a journey. Think about how each ending gives the reader the space to spark his/her own imagination, to open the way for what comes next. This is especially true of the last one, the end of the story. What message is Gregory giving us here, and how?
  • The main character’s life is given to us in snippets, scattered throughout the story. What do you think Gregory intended us to feel about this character? Was he successful?

As always, enjoy, and feel free to comment.

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