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Authors: Daryl Gregory


BOOK: Unpossible
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Praise for Daryl Gregory’s

is Gregory’s first collection. The stories are all quite short, with no time wasted on lumpy exposition or treacly morals, but each one carries all the grim weight and peculiar beauty of his novels, simmered down to a deceptively sweet syrup that goes down easy and then twists in your guts. They poke at complex, difficult notions, not so much trying to answer questions as trying to figure out how to begin asking them ... These are not comfortable stories, which is a good part of what makes them worth reading."

—Publisher’s Weekly

"Daryl Gregory has emerged as one of the most consistently interesting and yet least predicatable writers of the last decade ... A writer of startling depth and sensitivity, whose understanding of the delicate machinations of the heart trumps his need for superheroes, or even for neurology."

—Gary K. Wolfe,

"Daryl Gregory has found ways to explore the human mind and spirit—for good, bad, or any of the strange places between such absolutes—that seem very much his own in his first collection."

—Faren Miller,

"Facts do not begin to describe Daryl. Not describe him, not contain him, not constrain him. Both in person and in his fiction Daryl breaks the paltry bonds of fact. They cannot hold him ... Read these stories for their human truths, for their inventiveness, for their verve. Most of all, read them for your own pleasure."

—Nancy Kress

"Gregory’s short fiction displays certain central obsessions—a keen understanding of cognitive sciences; an interest in families and questions of relationships and maturity; and an obsession with popular culture."

—Chris Roberson

Also by Daryl Gregory


The Devil’s Alphabet

Raising Stony Mayhall


And Other Stories






Bonney Lake, WA

A Fairwood Press Book
November 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Daryl Gregory


All Rights Reserved


No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


Fairwood Press
21528 104th Street Court East
Bonney Lake, WA 98391


Front cover illustration & design by
Antonello Silverini
Book Design by Patrick Swenson


ISBN13: 978-1-933846-30-9
First Fairwood Press Edition: November 2011
Printed in the United States of America


Ebook conversion by:
Hydra House


For Gary Delafield and Andrew Tisbert

Publication History

"Second Person, Present Tense" first appeared in
(Sept 2005)

"Unpossible" first appeared in
(Oct 2007)

"Damascus" first appeared in
(Sept 2005)

"The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm" first appeared in
Eclipse 3
(Nov 2009)

"Gardening at Night" first appeared in
(April 2006)

"Glass" first appeared in
Technology Review
(Nov/Dec 2008)

"What We Take When We Take What We Need" first appeared in
(Spring 2010)

"Digital" appears here for the first time

"Persistence" appears here for the first time

"Message from the Bubblegum Factory" first appeared in

"Free, and Clear" first appeared in
(Feb 2004)

"Dead Horse Point" first appeared in
(Aug 2007)

"In the Wheels" first appeared in
(Aug 1990)

"The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy" first appeared in
(July 2004)



Introduction by Nancy Kress

Second Person, Present Tense



The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm

Gardening at Night

Petit Mal #1: Glass

What We Take When We Take What We Need

Petit Mal #2: Digital

Message from the Bubblegum Factory

Free, and Clear

Dead Horse Point

In the Wheels

Petit Mal #3: Persistence

The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy

Story Notes

Daryl Gregory:
Facts and Obsessions

by Nancy Kress

Here are the facts: Daryl Gregory’s first story appeared in 1990 in the magazine
Fantasy & Science Fiction
. He has since published three novels,
in 2008,
The Devil’s Alphabet
in 2009, and
Raising Stony Mayhall
in 2011. In addition, over a dozen stories have come out in various magazines and anthologies. Daryl lives with his wife Kathy and two children in State College, Pennsylvania.

The problem is that facts do not begin to describe Daryl. Not describe him, not contain him, not constrain him. Both in person and in his fiction Daryl breaks the paltry bonds of fact. They cannot hold him. In person he is exuberant, tireless, eager, one of the last guys in the convention bar and the first to propose another expedition. A former theater major, he is a terrific performer, reading his fiction aloud with verve and animation. If you ever get a chance to hear him read, do so.

In his writing, however, exuberance takes a different turn. Because he is such a good writer, Daryl has all that intensity under control. The result is a cast of characters with a wide range of personalities but one similar quality: When they want something, they want it with every fiber of their fictional souls. What they want differs radically from story to story; as a writer Daryl has a wide range. Sometimes his characters achieve what they want, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they do but wish they hadn’t. But always that longing is there, sharp as pain.

What do his protagonists long
? The usual things: love, glory, adventure, power, to go home again. However, a list like that says nothing about the actual stories, since the list is the same for anything ever written. What matters are a particular author’s characters, relationships among characters, obsessions.

Superheroes are an obsession of Daryl’s. Many of the stories in this collection are about superheroes with powers beyond the human, although none are the simplistic good-or-evil beings of comic books and movies. Daryl doesn’t do simplistic. His Lord Grimm, Soliton, Teresa (aka Lady Justice), Multiplex Man—all have complicated relationships to those around them. In one of my favorite stories, the hilarious and wistful "Unpossible," fictional heroes don’t even exist—maybe—but still retain their power to shape our emotional lives. In "The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy," which is at once moving and shocking, the longing for superheroes both destroys and liberates the story’s characters.

Another of Daryl’s obsessions is the limits of the human brain. He explores how much extension is possible for our powers of concentration ("Dead Horse Point"), for our powers of empathy ("Glass"), for our powers of religious vision ("Damascus"). The disturbing "Damascus," another favorite of mine, also deals with another human ability: self-deception.

Whatever a particular story’s theme, however, it is always played out in the context of complicated human relationships. Brother and sister, hero and sidekick, mentor and disciple. Daryl is particularly strong on father-son relationships. That fertile subject, with all its complexities of love and rivalry and control, gives birth to "In the Wheels," "The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy," and "What We Take When We Take What We Need," the latter closely tied to his novel
The Devil’s Alphabet

None of these stories is set on a space station or an alien planet. This comes off as not a constraint but as an enrichment, freeing the author to concentrate on that sufficiently exotic creature,
homo sapiens
, in all his sometimes-exotic longing. Doing this fully requires the tropes of both science fiction and fantasy, and Daryl blends them freely, unconstrained by fact. That’s because these stories have something else in mind besides the facts, something much more important: truth.

Read these stories for their human truths, for their inventiveness, for their verve. Most of all, read them for your own pleasure. Enjoy.

BOOK: Unpossible
10.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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