TYLER HAYES is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are we not alone in this terrifying world, but we might just make things better. His fiction has appeared online and in print in anthologies from Alliteration Ink, Graveside Tales, and Aetherwatch.

The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes

Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they're too Real to disappear.

Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an Idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there's nothing left but imaginary corpses.


Hollywood's sub-genre of dinosaur detectives has given the world both Whoopi Goldberg's Theodore Rex and, a decade later, the masterpiece that is Anonymous Rex – and why do I even know this? It doesn't matter, because The Imaginary Corpse gifts us with a dino-detective for new millennium – who also happens to be just an imaginary friend. – Lavie Tidhar



  • "This reminds me of Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music, plus the Brian Aldiss-inspired first act of AI, with splashes of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami."

    – Library Journal
  • "Hayes's debut is an affectionate, lightly mocking homage to noir tales… A strong psychological thread weaves through the story as characters confront the trauma of being imaginary and forgotten, adding depth to what at first may seem a silly concept. Readers will revel in this strange, fully realized world."

    – Publishers Weekly
  • "Hayes nails that tone in the midst of what may be 2019's weirdest premise… the most unusual SFF-mystery mashup you'll read this year."

    – B&N Sci Fi & Fantasy Blog
  • "A wholly original take on the lands of make-believe from a captivating new voice in the genre. Hayes takes the reader on a journey to the heart of themselves, reminding them of all that was lost and all that can never be forgotten. A book as comforting and as cathartic as your first knocked-out tooth."

    – Meg Elison, Philip K. Dick Award-winning author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
  • "This is detective noir shot through with technicolor playfulness the likes of which I haven't seen since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It's pure imagination on multiple axes – with a ton of heart."

    – Alex Wells, author of Hunger Makes the Wolf
  • "It's elegant, beautifully constructed, innovative, and true."

    – Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of October Daye and InCryptid




Are you okay?

I'm down here. Yeah, the sunflower-yellow stuffed triceratops. I know. It's okay. I know you're overwhelmed, I was too. We all were.

Do you need anything? Food? Water? To talk about whatever just

happened to you? No is fine. No is always fine here.

You've got questions. Of course you've got questions. And I'm happy

to answer them. But why don't we start at the start, and I'll tell you why you're talking to a plush dinosaur.

Here are the two things you absolutely need to know. First: In case you didn't know, you're an idea. I'm not sure if you're an imaginary friend or a novel's protagonist or a mascot or what. But if you're here, you're an idea.

Second: You were loved. You were loved enduringly and unequivocally, and that made you capital-R Real. Not an idea; an Idea. A Friend.

But then – whatever just happened to your person, your creator – it happened, and it was horrible, and it affected you. I won't pretend to know what, and I won't ask, but whatever it was, your person couldn't keep you around. For most ideas, that's it, lights out. But not you. You're Real. So... what happens to you?

Well, what happens is that you end up here. The Stillreal. The underside of the Imagination that nobody remembers to clean. It can be a rough place, but it can also be beautiful. Fortunately, you have me to help you find the latter instead of waltzing face-first into the former.

The name's Tippy: ex-imaginary friend and once-and-current detective. It's nice to meet you.