impossible story n.

esp. in the early pulp era: a work of imaginative fiction; a different story n.


SF Criticism


  • 1913 Letter in All-Story Magazine Dec. 959/1 page image

    Give us plenty of scientific and impossible stories…. Also give us more wild adventure.

  • 1931 H. Fearing Letter in Astounding Stories Oct. 133/2 page image

    I like the ‘impossible’ stories best because they are impossible. I think ‘The Tentacles from Below’…was the best story I ever read.

  • 1938 H. Kuttner Selling the Fantasy Story in Writer's Digest Mar. 29/1 Henry Kuttner bibliography

    Impossible stories are the most convincing. They have to be, or editors wouldn’t buy them. It’s easy to believe in a two-fisted cowboy…. But fantasy is a different matter.

  • 1957 S. Moskowitz in How Science Fiction Got Its Name in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Feb. 67/1 page image Sam Moskowitz bibliography

    Another term often found in the readers' departments of Munsey magazines was impossible stories. That term received some use up until about 1920 when it all but disappeared…. It was awkward to state in every issue that ‘we will continue to present “different stories.”’

Research requirements

antedating 1913

Earliest cite

All-Story Magazine

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1957 cite from Sam Moskowitz's "How Science Fiction Got Its Name".
John Locke submitted a cite from Henry Kuttner's "Selling the Fantasy Story" in an (unpaginated) electronic verion of Writer's Digest from March 1938; it was subsequently verified in a print edition.

Last modified 2021-03-18 13:27:36
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.