I haven’t read a collection of short stories since high school, maybe college. The common wisdom these days is that there aren’t many markets for short stories, and unless you’re a very famous writer (maybe a Stephen King, for example), they are nearly impossible to sell and have published. Maybe that inspired Daryl Gregory to title his collection Unpossible. But I doubt it.
A few weeks ago, I saw a blurb in the newspaper book section about this book and I knew I had to make time for this one. Daryl Gregory is a fantasy/SF writer who has been nominated for and won several impressive writing awards. That’s nice, but I’ve got a pile of books to be read just so I can stay abreast of the young adult market and manage to make progress on my own novels. What drew me in was that he was interested cognitive science, consciousness, the mind. Now, you have me, Mr. Gregory! And BTW, I already know who Oliver Sacks is.
Picking and choosing from the selections offered, I enjoyed everything I read. In Second Person, Present Tense we are swept up in the life of a teenager whose casual use of a new drug, wipes her memory and all sense of a previous “I”. Who is she now? Who was she before? In another story entitled Damascus, rational science fights the mystical experience when a group of followers use prions to achieve an altered state. And why wouldn’t the believers want to share this with the world? Well, they do and with dire consequences. The potential use of the mind’s extreme focus is explored in Dead Horse Point. And while every up has a down, this one does too. And finally, there was The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy. Here we recall a boyhood past where two friends make super 8 movies and abuse GI Joe. Talk to any man of a certain age and they’ll cop to this one. As charming and realistic as this is, there is also an undercurrent of real abuse, of murder (most foul), and maybe resurrection. Overall, a nice intriguing set of tales. Read this for yourself and pass it along to a friend so you’ll have someone to discuss it with. Hey, anybody want to talk about Unpossible? I do!