Ask the guy who is pretty good at SF Story Identification

Hi there. It’s been just about 4 years since I signed onto the SDMB, but I’m back. A few weeks back I helped out in this thread with a story identification (by emailing the answer to Wendell). If you’ve got a story you’d like me to try to identify for you, give a description (include a rough idea of when you read it, and as many details as you remember) and I’ll give it my best shot.


I read a juvenile SF short story back in the 70s about two friends who migrate with their families to an interstellar colony on a planet with two moons. One of the friends turns into a werewolf due to the two moons. Any ideas of the title and author?

Do you do fantasy/ghost stories?

This was a short-short story I read 30-odd years ago in some anthology…I want to say it was an Alfred Hitchcock anthology, but I can’t be sure.

A classic “club” tale, in which a strange little man tells his story (over a couple of large whiskies) about being abandoned on a cliff ledge in some far-off territory, after his companion has already fallen off and been killed. The first-person narrator points out that there was NO WAY the little man could have been rescued.

“Quite,” says the little man.

“So, then, you must be DEAD,” say the narrator.

“Quite,” says the little man, and vanishes.

It’s probably a rip-off of Lord Dunsany’s excellent Jorkens tale, “In a Dim Room.” But shorter, cleaner, more direct, and spookier.

Doesn’t ring a bell unfortunately - I do find references to the “World Of Two Moons” comic series by Wendy Pini, but it doesn’t seem to fit completely

Can anyone answer these questions or should we leave it to the OP?

(I remember Ike’s story, and I think I can point him to the correct series, if not the actual volume.)

Sometime in the early 80s I read a short story that was probably in a book of collected short stories. A man has a pregnant wife who is currently out and about while he is in their apartment on New Year’s Eve waiting for her to get back home. Some old guy knocks on the door. Turns out he was born last year at the turn of midnight News Year’s Eve and has aged over the past year. He’s this year’s avatar of sorts. He dies at the stroke of midnight. Guy gets a call from his wife - she had gone into labor and delivered at the stroke of midnight. Angst ensues.

OK, here goes -

It’s a full-length novel. Set a few hundred years in the future, after humanity had apparently been wiped out by some sort of sentient computer viruses. An immortal, super-enhanced woman, believing herself the last human left, escapes to some faraway planet (in sub-light speeds) with a cargo of human embryos, and there she sets up a new human civilization. Cut several centuries forward - she’s still in charge, but her colony is revolting against her, and she learns that a ship is on its way from Earth.

Main characters - the woman, who sees herself as the mother of her planetary civilization, a radical intellectual who refers to the woman’s supposed secret police as “Keeyas” (as he misread the term “CIA” in a history book) the reluctant young general leading the rebellion. Oh and there’s a twist ending.

I’ve been trying to find this book for years, after reading it once around 1999 or so. I even started a thread about it, once. Any ideas?

A woman flies a spaceship around the universe. She is nude all the time. She discovers an alien on a planet that is a kind of amorphous furry blob. Story ends with the alien either psychically sensing her love or transmitting it’s love to her, can’t remember for sure, and with her wearing the alien as a sort of living, snuggly garment. There was a lot more to the story, but I can’t remember it.

Story was in a big (in dimensions, not pages) illustrated colection of science fiction short stories I found in my school library in either the late seventies or early eighties. I’m pretty sure the stories were originally not illustrated, because I found one of the other stories in this book in a regular SF collection years later.

I have another one. This was either a children’s or YA book, read in the early 80s. It follows a kid in the future who travels to a planet in another star system on a vacation/business trip with his Dad. The trip would take months or years normally, but they have the technology to transmit data faster than light, and the way the kid travels is that a body is created for him at the destination and his mind is transmitted to a receiver at the remote location and uploaded into the simulated body’s brain while his real body was kept in a kind of unconscious storage. This was seen as somewhat commonplace to him, but not something everybody got to do - kinda like a kid getting to go on a vacation to Europe. There was some kind of nefarious plot against his father that involved this body duplication process.

Okay, this one is really vague. Novelette-length story, I think, from the '80s or '90s. There’s an older guy teaming up with a younger girl who is a computer genius and who wears a t-shirt with something like “Q” and a picture of a screw. The guy eventually catches on to the fact that this shirt means she’s coming on to him and they have sex (her breasts are fake and she makes a “silicone valley” joke). Their computer exploration leads them to know too much about something big and the girl ends up gruesomely killed.

I strongly associate the above story with “All My Darling Daughters,” so I thought I might have read them both in the same collection–possibly a book of SF stories with sexual themes–but looking at the titles of stories in books that include AMDD didn’t ring any bells.

Here’s one.

Published in the late 70’s in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine.

A man is living the life of a middle aged loser in a city somewhere. Job he hates, single, crappy apartment, out of shape. One day he hears the voice of an alien in his head. At first he understandably freaks out, but eventually he comes to accept it and not be scared. The alien agrees to set up private rooms and a common area in the man’s mind.

The alien explains his mission. He comes from a Universe fantastically different from our own. The alien analogizes it to a gigantic incredibly complex mathematical equation, where every part is necessary to the logical meaning of the whole. It’s a world of icy abstract beauty, cold and logical. Now one piece of the universe has detached itself and come here, to our universe. Without that piece, the alien’s universe doesn’t make sense any more. It is difficult for the alien to convey the magnitude of the crisis, but he asks the man to imagine “Time running backwards, the sun turning into a cold ball of iron, glaxies flapping their arms like demented starfish.” The Alien has been sent to our universe to track the fugitive and return him, thus saving his world.

The alien begins to make changes in the man’s life. He gets the man in shape, gets him a better job, begins investing in a market he can easily predict. The alien is overwhelmed by sensation, having never experienced it before. Even the man’s poor bachelor diet fascinates him. Then the alien discovers sex, which he won’t shut up about for three days. Eventually the man becomes wealthy. He and the alien start traveling the globe, ostensibly searching for the fugitive, but the man notices they always wind up in places of art, beauty and pleasure. Soon he is leading the life of a decadent cultured playboy.

One day the man is looking at paintings at a gallery in the Greek Islands. As he is about to enter a room the alien starts yelling in his mind. “Get out! Get Out!” The man leaves the gallery. The alien apologizes and claims he was simply bored in the gallery. It’s never staed explicitly but it’s obvious what happened: The alien found his quarry, but has lost the desire to return to his universe.

At the end the man accepts his life. It’s a pretty good life after all, the life of a wealthy aesthete. But sometimes he can’t stop thinking about time running backwards or the sun becoming a cold ball of iron.

That story has stayed with me but I can’t remember what it was called or who wrote it.

ETA: if anyone knows this let me know, not just the OP.

Biffy - thanks for one that I can id off the top of my head - it’s “Press Enter” by John Varley.

All are welcome to id stories mentioned in the thread - I know I can’t do it all.


Hmm. The first part sounds like a story by Vernor Vinge (the ship of embryos) called “Longshot”, but the rest doesn’t ring a bell.

Story where where there are huge aliens that look like classical “devils” that want to be worshipped. Aliens that are sentient slugs (or was it a virus?) that can infect and destroy the devils.

I don’t think anyone else here knows the answer, so please feel free!

Here’s an easy one, since Ray Bradbury wrote it. (I read it in a high-school anthology, but haven’t encountered it in any Bradbury collection I own, and I own quite a few.)

Schoolhouse on Venus. It rains all the time. On this particular day the sun is supposed to come out for five minutes. Sad little loner girl really looking forward to it. Bullies lock her in a closet, and forget to let her out in time, so she misses it completely. Wahhh.

One of Bradbury’s “Kids suck” specials.

“All Summer in a Day”. I remembered the story, found the answer by googling ‘rain venus bradbury’.

This sounds like a great story - I don’t know it but I want to. Are you familar with the Internet Speculative Fiction Data base ( One feature it has is the table of contents of all SF magazines - If you check out F&SF tocs from that time period, the title might ring a bell (here’s the format for the TOCs Publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1979 is F&SF April 1979.

That’s it! I thought it might be Varley. Thanks.

Thanks! Based on your link I think it may–may–be “The Haute Bourgeoise” By Robert F Young, but I can’t find a plot summary to confirm.

Okay then. I’ve certainly read the same story you ask about. I’m pretty sure that it was in one of The Armada Ghost Book series. Can’t tell you which volume, though. BTW, I always thought that the impact of the twist ending was somewhat reduced by the fact that it was included in a book of ghost stories.

Try The Illustrated Man, I think it’s in that one.