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alternate wednesday: “Impossible Dreams”

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Somebody described the experience of reading great fiction as being caught up in a vivid continuous dream, and I think movies do that better than any other kind of story. Some people say the best movie isn’t as good as the best book, and I say they’re not watching the right movies, or else they’re not watching them the right way.

One of my favorite alternate universe stories–indeed, one of my favorite short stories in general–is “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt. I first read it in the July 2006 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, and it instantly felt like one of those things that was made just for me. You know, like that Thundercats/Superman crossover comic, only way way better.

impossibledreamsWithout spoiling more than I have to (considering I’m featuring it in this blog series), the story is about a cinephile named Pete who happens across a video store from another reality… Which means it offers films from another reality. Think about that for a moment, and then think about all the movies that might have been if the whims of Hollywood had turned out a little differently. “Impossible Dreams” is a love letter to film geeks, calling out some of my own favorite movies and tantalizing me with versions of them I wish I could experience.

I love films–if I could, I’d watch at least one movie a day–and this story hits two other big loves of mine: The Twilight Zone (no surprise) and parallel universes. More than that, it accurately conveys some of the joys of watching films, and the particular pleasure in sharing them with others. I can’t recommend “Impossible Dreams” highly enough, and I hope you’ll take a moment to read it. (Don’t take just my word for it; it won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.)

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Conveniently enough, you can find it online for free at Wired, have someone else read it to you over at Escape Pod, or purchase it as a $0.99 eBook for Kindle or Nook. But I also think that if you enjoy stories about alternate universes, you have to pick up Other Worlds Than These, a reprint anthology edited by John Joseph Adams which features this and many other wonderful stories that I plan to mention in the future on this blog.

Finally, it seems only fitting that a short story about loving movies should be turned into a film of its own. As it happens, Israeli director Shir Comay has done just that with his 2011 short film, Impossible Dreams, starring Ori Yaniv and Ayala Zilberman. It took me a while to get around to watching it, but I saw it yesterday and it’s a terrific adaptation. I think it works especially well in its 22-minute run time, as it feels like a modern Twilight Zone episode–and even seems specifically designed to evoke that. Check out the full film below in Hebrew with English subtitles. (Here’s the trailer.)



What nonexistent films would you most like to see?

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