Impossible Encounters :: Zoran Živković

Impossible Encounters

by Zoran Živković

Translated from Serbian by Alice Copple-Tošić

Six strangely related stories about six encounters that could or should have never happened. A post mortem encounter with a clerk who has a most bizarre offer; an elusive encounter with oneself, only decades older; a seemingly innocent encounter with a bookshop visitor who is desperately looking for an ordinary SF story; a memorable encounter with God in a train which, unfortunately, has to be forgotten; a dreamlike encounter with Devil in a Church as a first step on a road which doesn’t lead to Hell; finally, a forbidden encounter of a dying author with one of his protagonists who brings an impossible book as a gift.

Stories from the book have been published in the UK (Interzone: February, May, July, September, October, November and December 2000), in the USA (Year’s Best Fantasy anthology, Harper-Collins, 2001), in Poland (the magazine Nowa Fantastyka, July 2000), and in Japan (an anthology of the Middle European “fantastika”, 2011).

The story “The Train” was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on 29 September 2005.

Also included in Impossible Stories I


  • Impossible Encounters is a series of tales about, well, impossible encounters. The first line of “The Window” is “I died in my sleep.” It then proceeds to recount what happens thereafter…
    —David Soyka, The New York Review of Science Fiction
  • As might be expected of a European academic trained in literary theory, Živković mingles postmodern flourishes—self-reflexivity, deconstructionist ruminations—with the materials of speculative fiction. Overall, he perhaps most strongly resembles Italo Calvino in the latter’s fantastic vein. Surrealism, incongruous introspection, teasing narrative geometries, and startling systems of hyperbolic wit shape and illuminate his yarns, lending them an Escheresque elegance.
    —Nick Gevers, Locus
  • The stories carry about them the feel of myth, of primal, perhaps archetypal, confrontation. Although the reader may not be aware of it as he or she progresses through the book, it becomes clear in retrospect that Živković has consciously built towards his final story.
    —Michael Levy, The New York Review of Science Fiction
  • Encounters that are impossible, encounters that are from beyond the boundaries of what we have decided is reality and possibility, and yet remain within the realms of what we call ordinary. They’re quiet and soft in the nature of the extraordinariness. Subtle, delicate, and unassuming.
    —Tessa, Silence Without


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