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The "Does Anyone Know This Story?" Hoax

Yesterday, my older brother emailed me to ask if I could identify the title of a science fiction story, and he gave me a few pieces of the plot and descriptions of the characters that he remembered. (I didn't recognize the story.) I noticed that today over on SF Signal one of the contributors has posted the same question about a different story.

Asking the hive mind (or the human database, as I like to call it) to identify the title and author of a story one remembers from long ago is something that goes back to the early days of the Usenet and SF-Lovers Digest. I remember that certain plots were asked about so many times that they ended up in the FAQ. (Some of those included "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov, "Light of Other Days" by Bob Shaw, "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury, and "The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke.)

Anyway, every time I see one of these requests, a mischievous impulse tries to convince me to turn this inquiry game into a hoax. That is, it prompts me to go on one of these bulletin boards and to describe a story that as far as I know doesn't actually exist...and then to see what real stories people think I'm remembering.

Who knows? Maybe one can build up a list of cool stories to track down that way.

Comments

Well, as long as you're asking...

It was set in a deli on the Moon, and with every meal, they serve a little cup of "cold slough," which no one ever eats, but it always gets served, because that's the way you do it in a deli.

The other one isn't a story, but a quote I think I remember (unless I originated it myself) to the effect that "I can't understand why any president would run for re-election. It's the greatest job in the world to retire from."
Ian, That quote about the president sounds distinctly Heinleinian to me.
It's sort of got the flavor of Heinlein, but there's very little Heinlein I don't remember that it might be in. I was thinking some pundit or epigrammist (if that's the right word), although more and more I'm wondering if it really was me, and I've just forgotten. I'd love to take credit for it, but I'd be just as happy to find the proper attribution.
Oh, and just so you don't think I didn't get the point of your post, there's this other story about a guy who gets up in the morning, gets dressed, eats breakfast, goes to work, does his job, and then goes home to relax, get some sleep, and then start it all over again. And nothing untoward happens to him, and he's happy....
Remember that one about the gnats genetically bred to serve as quark harvesters? And there was this one guy who was narcoleptic or dyspeptic or something and he was concerned about the effect of the quark harvesting breaking the torus of space-time? I think it was by Clarke, but maybe one of Van Vogt's or Simak?

Oh, and the title had something to do with Pompey or Iago or some other dude from a Shakepearean play... So it might have been Ellison.

Do you know which one I'm talking about?


:D

I heartily endorse this idea.
Asimov wrote a short-short about this, didn't he?
That is, it prompts me to go on one of these bulletin boards and to describe a story that as far as I know doesn't actually exist...and then to see what real stories people think I'm remembering.

Who knows? Maybe one can build up a list of cool stories to track down that way.


Or maybe a list of cool stories to write? :)
Or maybe a list of cool stories to write?

This was my thought as well. And not just cool stories to write, but since it was generated from the collective subconscious, it becomes a list of story requests that people will want to read. Slick!

Mabfan's Reverse-Hoax Internet Sale-able Story Generator!

Now all we need is some guy to take a trip to the future and report back to us what stories actually sold!
But maybe they are stories that exist from all those monkeys that have Usenet axis.

My response will be "I think that was a fanfic somewhere...."
Oh yeah, the story where the Axis powers invent Usenet and use it to invent the A-bomb, but then due to an accident with radiation, monkeys take over. That was a classic. Thanks for reminding me of it.
I must have the same mischievous streak. I find the idea highly entertaining. :)
When I started reading this I thought you were suddenly admitting to being in some Myg0t like clan disrupting the Sf community forums recently with partial remembrances of old stories and a demand to know what the book/film/whatever (sometimes they specify, sometimes not) was called, and why do they remember it suddenly (and again, psychological testing would be detrimental at this point!)

If you could possibly register with coolscifi.com and pop in every so often, we provide a fertile breeding ground for this monster of disinformation you envision! (Once the host runs checks on the HDD's that is, we think they are faulty right now and have been poking them in the eye to resolve the matter.) Feel free to answer these new threads from brand new members who disappear into the ether never to be seen again with spoof books/films/etc of your choosing.
Well, this leads to a bit of an iron chef opportunity.

You could throw out these 'recollections' of a story, and have people write the story to fit the recollections. It would be the backwards-in-time series of events compared to the original occurrences.

But your way would operate something like Amazon's method of suggestion products. "People who liked these story elements suggested these stories: "
That, or inspire a whole bunch of authors to write more cool stories! :)
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