May 19, 2011

Covering Covers: Unpossible - Daryl Gregory

Last week, Daryl Gregory debuted the cover of his upcoming Fairwood Press collection, Unpossible and Other Stories, as designed by Italian artist and illustrator, Antonello Silverini.

Cover Artist: Antonello Silverini

If you don't recognize the name, Daryl Gregory is a relatively new novelist whose first two novels, Pandemonium and The Devil's Alphabet, have earned him a sterling reputation here at Stomping on Yeti. While his work is undeniably genre-ic, it's never escapist. Gregory might dress his fiction in pulp demons and mutated monsters but at its core its some heavy stuff, reflecting on what it really means to "grow up", the double-edged sword of family, and the sheer terror of realizing your own place in this world. To put it more plainly, it's like my genretacular childhood and my angst-ridden twenty-something present met up, fell in love, and had a baby. With tentacles.

Returning to Silverini's brilliant cover, I can't help but admire the simplistic beauty of the composition. As is the case in many of his pieces, Silverini takes several disparate images and combines them in wondrous fashion. In doing so, he pulls the observer in to contemplate what each element represents. Why is there a cable car in a grassy field? Why does one figure have a different face? What does the faded American flag represent? What's with the dog? Why is the word sightseeing included?

To try suss a little bit more meaning out of this enigmatic image, I queried Gregory himself. Here's what he had to say:

As for the cover, Antonello's usual method is to read the text and start using the images that speak to him. The only parameters we gave him were (a) it's an eclectic collection, covering SF, fantasy, and weird stuff, so it shouldn't suggest that it's in one genre (for example, no spaceships, which he wouldn't do anyway) and (b) make it something he'd be proud to put in his portfolio.

He ended up using images from the title story, which is about a middle aged man who used to be one of those adventuresome kids, like the boys from Where the Wild Things Are and The Phantom Tollbooth. But now he's grown up, life has not gone as planned, and he's trying desperately to get back into "the lands beyond." And that's pretty much a metaphor for what I'm trying to do in these stories -- get back into the story.
To me the lack of clear thematic direction is also emblematic of Gregory's work as a whole. Like celebrated genre author, China Mieville, the only real commonality in Gregory's diverse portfolio is a uniform high level of quality. The only type of tale you can safely expect is a good one. While the Table of Contents of Unpossible is still in flux, I'd assume it would include the titular short, "Unpossible", as well as some of Gregory's more popular pieces in "Second Person, Present Tense" and "The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm." I follow Gregory's output pretty closely, so I'll be sure to provide an update when it's available.

Unpossible and Other Stories should be available from Fairwood Press in October 2011. In the meantime, go read Pandemonium and/or The Devil's Alphabet. You can thank me later.


  1. Nice. I'm a big fan of Daryl's work. I've got a review copy of Raising Stony Mayhall that's taunting me daily. I also interviewed Daryl for our podcast recently, in case you're interested.

  2. I LOVE that cover!! It's nice to see covers that change it up a bit. Not the same boring font choices, same generic landscape, etc. It's got style and graphic elements that make it interesting to look at and draw the reader in. I find that I'm really drawn to a monochromatic color scheme with that distressed feel. Love it. I can see that this book might be one that I'll be reading aloud to you while driving in the car. ;) Looking forward to that road trip!!


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