I remember reading a short story or folk tale about a man who had a ball of string. Whenever something boring was happening, he could just pull out some of the string and fast forward to the more interesting parts of his life. I read it around 1991, and it may have been Isaac Singer. Does anyone have a source for this tale?
I read a short story a few years ago that involved a white couple living in post-colonial Africa. I think it might have been Rhodesia, but I'm not positive about that. The couple lived in a once-grand, now decaying estate and had to deal with an act of violence. I remember reading it on my commute to work, so it was likely in a magazine. I've searched the New Yorker archives and can't seem to find it there, but the Atlantic is another possibility. Does this ring any bells?
I'm trying to think of more examples of this particular moment: a character who is dying, or thinking of death, or speaking from beyond the grave, gives a list or inventory of the everyday things they remember and appreciate about being alive. A few examples inside. [more inside]
I once read a book where someone tells the main character, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, Veronica." I'm 99% sure the character in question was called Veronica and the line definitely included her name. (It may not have included the "than vinegar" bit.) What was this book? [more inside]
Help me find an online review that someone wrote several years ago, reviewing a data-erasing gadget by writing a piece of dystopian fiction in which the user needs to use the device in a hurry. [more inside]
I am writing a short story in which an unmanned spaceship crashes in a field, and I've gotten stuck when it comes to visualizing/describing the spaceship. I like the idea of a steampunk craft, though it will have lights. In case you are wondering, the overall tone I am going for is magic with a hint of sadness. Got any ideas for what it looks like on the outside or inside? What might my characters find when they explore?
I'm looking for fiction and non-fiction texts (video, audio, and books) that take what is ostensibly a very real situation and find a surreal perspective. I'm not looking for the fantastic though, but more of a foreboding tone/atmosphere. You know, when a narrative seemingly grounded in reality has an unreal, genuinely unsettling undercurrent. Examples below. [more inside]
Book suggestions for a gift exchange recipient that combine business, Haruki Murakami, David Foster Wallace, and/or music? (here's hoping my recipient isn't also a Mefite!) [more inside]
What fiction, non-fiction, or academic works on a "post-literate" world can you recommend? Has anyone written about a world where the most successful and powerful don't necessarily posses the ability to read or write as we know it? [more inside]
About five years ago, I remember skimming through what purported to be an internal document for how to recruit for an unnamed/generic terrorist organization. It was very fanciful/dime-novel-like in nature. Does this sound familiar? [more inside]
In the Man Kzin wars books there's a recurring protagonist called Dimity Carmody. Whilst technically human it's emphasised that she's somewhat inhuman psychologically to the point she's almost regarded as an alien. I liked the character and would like to read more fiction with similar characters - what's out there?
I'm fascinated by writing systems. I've seen this wiki page about different types of systems in real and fictional languages. As I understand it, there are generally three kinds of systems: logographic, where symbols represent entire concepts or words; syllabaries, where symbols represent syllabic sounds; and segmental, where symbols represent phonemes or small units of sound. Is there any other way to write? I'm having a hard time coming up with how it would even work, but I'm sure some clever author somewhere has tried. Is there another way to write a language other than the above?
Looking for examples of well-written or well-respected Alternate History fiction, in the vein of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union. [more inside]
Recommend me fiction or very readable memoirs about midwifery, obstetrics, and the politics of birth--any genre is fine, but SF/F and historical suggestions are especially welcome. [more inside]
I'm trying to ID a short story where the protagonist becomes unemployed in a world where once you lose your job you have no hope of getting another job and are therefor forced to accept marginal government assistance. Additional spoilerific details inside. [more inside]
Name this Science Fiction book! Recently translated to english from a european language (german?) out in hardcover. Protagonist is an italian woman living in a post catastrophe europe. Primary plot mover is time-travel/many worlds machine. She travels back to the middle ages and engages with a philosopher/academic/monastic (after getting burned at the stake on at least one attempt) [more inside]
An actual help-me-with-my-story question: I've got a group of characters who need to ride around in an eye catching, iconic vintage automobile. It was orginally going to be a VW bus for the Mystery Machine echos but it turns out that's not actually street legal in the US. So, what's an old-fashioned auto that seats four or more, can be driven on US roads, and is antique/unusual enough to attract attention from car people but not enough that it sticks out like a surreal visitation ( like say, a Model T would.)
So, our hero lives next door to an evil guy who is at present blind/infirm. She has an opportunity to kill him and make it look like an accident. What are some handy means of death for purposes of FICTION [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of novels (or stories in other media) that fit a particular mold exemplified by Harry Potter. The basic premise is that the protagonist is living a (usually particularly unpleasant) mundane life when they are unexpectedly contacted by a representative from a secret supernatural (or otherwise fantastic) society and then.... invited to enroll in a school. [more inside]
Help me find more sweeping fiction epics of the old west like Lonesome Dove and Hard Country, please. Horses, cattle, cowboys, empty country, ranching, pioneers, prospectors, trappers, etc. Bonus points for very long books or multiple books in the series. I've read everything by Larry McMurtry, and know about Michael Garrity's series, having just finished Hard Country. What else should I read? (I have lots of nonfiction books lined up already, so let's concentrate on fiction, or near-fiction.) Thanks!
I again have time to consume books like a cookie-monster. I've avoided lists of classics-by-genera because I tend to like only 5% of what's on them. It's not that I specifically like reading dystopias or sci-fi - I liked the Poisonwood Bible for instance, as much if not more than Lord of the Rings. In addition to book recommendations, it would also be useful if, given the books listed below, you have any ideas for other trends that could help me search out books myself. Your advice is much appreciated! :) [more inside]
[NSFW Book Filter] I only remember vague details about the book, which involved witches, a coven, the devil/demon/Satan and explicit sex scenes. [more inside]
A girl (tween? early teen?) visits an alien planet (possibly blue and rocky?) and loses a ring. She has to explain what a ring is-- like a tiny bracelet for your fingers, which are the little arms that come out of the end of my arms-- to the sympathetic aliens, who have cup-shaped hands. I read this in Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine some time in the early or mid-nineties. What's the title, author, or volume? Sure regretting tossing those back issues when I moved!
What are some decent, non-idiotic, contemporary crime/mystery novels? [more inside]
Please recommend fiction about obscure subcultures. Basically, I'm looking for the fiction version of this question. More contemporary books (written recently and about contemporary subjects) are preferred but not required.
I really love works of fiction that use the style, setup, or form of another media product as a means of storytelling and sometimes subversion. For example: TEDxSummerisle (complete with tweets and botched livestream) and The Theory of Narrative Causality, written primarily in the form of Livejournal posts by the Sherlock Homes fandom (inc comments and bits of fanfic) as well as GChats, TVTropes, and related media. What other similar works are out there? [more inside]
Looking for recommendations on a specific type of scifi fiction, be it movies or books. [more inside]
I'm looking for recommendations of English-language fiction that heavily features Spanish-language elements. I'm working on learning Spanish again (I had 3 years in high school, about 10 years ago) and thought it would be fun and useful to read novels that incorporate Spanish heavily, kind of an immersion strategy. [more inside]
I was reading a review of Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 and a reviewer said the following: The author inserts John Dos Passos-like lists here and there in the text. Not quite sure that works, however (These lists are distorted and truncated in the Kindle edition). What do these lists look like? [more inside]
Is it possible for a layperson to differentiate an MFA trained author from one who isn't?
[NSFW?] I am looking for fiction (books/movies/short stories/TV/etc) of a non-erotic nature where a hard-charging and strong-willed protagonist is revealed to possess a submissive or masochistic side. [more inside]
Please help me find as much short (8,000 words or less) dystopian fiction and literary theory (any length) as possible! Anthologies are fine. It can be on the internet or in book/magazine/any purchasable form. It can be famous; it can be obscure. Anything goes, really! [more inside]
Please recommend some interactive fiction with published source code (Inform 7) that is good for showing a beginner IF author best practice. [more inside]
Tell me the story of how you managed to keep your novel organized! [more inside]
My nine year old just read "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry. It is her first introduction to really high quality historical fiction. She is excited to read more books that teach her about history, but are also fun to read because they are fiction. Do you have any ideas about historical fiction books that are excellent quality like "Number the Stars" but that are age appropriate for my nine year old? Thank you.
What are some particularly intelligent or well-written novels in the suspense/mystery/detective fiction genre? [more inside]
Do they even exist in any substantial numbers? [more inside]
I like to learn about different places and cultures by reading fiction set in those places and with characters from those cultures. Can you recommend to me a contemporary novel about American Indians? I'm particularly interested in books about Native American communities in the continental US. [more inside]
Please recommend movies, books and video games that feature broken-down factories, derelict space-age laboratories, and modern ruins of all kinds as a primary setting. If there's something supernatural going on in there, so much the better. Examples within. [more inside]
Having finished, and loved, The Good House by Ann Leary, I'm interested in other novels where addictions, problems, obsessions or bad habits affect the (unreliable?) narrator as part of their character rather than the main plot theme. [more inside]
I want to become a reader again, but my latest trip to the bookstore made me sad. Ignoring the fact that it was hard to find fiction books amidst the tablets, the toys, and the teen fiction section, I found an assortment of 'chicklit', Tom Clancy, Steven King, Dean Koontz and an assortment of right-wing survivalist fiction. I want to find something that isn't David Sedaris. I want to find something that isn't non-fiction. I want to find something that isn't ... isn't this... Aren't there any great under-the-radar-haven't-been-overhyped-into-michael-crichton-yet authors? Or is this it... have I reached the end of an appreciation of fiction and I am now condemned to purgatory with nonfiction and biographies? Help! [more inside]
Yet another asking for a friend book recommendation. Looking for teen / older tween books that are based in/around Florida, punny, humor-wordplay, fantasy based, not that usual go-to-guy. [more inside]
What are some examples of works of fiction (e.g. novels, movies) that feature a Thanksgiving family gathering as a major plot element? [more inside]
You know how you can just remember a few details about some subject from your youth, and it's going to bother you until you can reveal the full scope of that memory? Yeah, I'm right there. I'm looking for a series of books. They were in the SF/F section in the 1980s. They were probably popular because their covers resembled Frazetta prints, and they tended to be really violent (i.e. jumping on the popularity of Conan). [more inside]
I heard a story (fiction) on the radio a few years ago and I'd like to find out what it was called and who wrote it. It was most likely presented on the show "Selected Shorts" but I'm not certain about that. The story took place in a town where everything seemed normal except that a black shape appeared one day in the sky overhead. Slowly over time the black shape fills the sky until the horizon is covered. A married couple are at the center of the story - there's more about their relationship than this thing in the sky. I think the sky-thing is a metaphor for something unspoken that dominates our fears. The characters barely react to it's presence (I think.) Anyone out there know this story?
Can you recommend fiction books that feature a main character who is entering middle age and is evaluating his or her life so far, and what direction their life should take? [more inside]
I've been watching Archer recently, and they had an episode with the super cliched "which wire to cut" scene. This made me wonder, is there any actual real world precedent for cutting a single wire to defuse a bomb (with every other wire resulting in death), or is this entirely a fictional scenario?
I'm looking for any old gangster movie - not a particular one, just any gangster movie older than about 1960 - where a villain caught by the police is offered some kind of break for ratting out his/her associates. Bonus points if the cops, once they have the information, punish the guy anyway.
I read this book sometime in the late 80s. It was a mystery solving book. I believe the protagonist(s) were kid(s). It involved a town named Staunton (like the chess pieces) and some burned paper in the base of a statue. And an ominous title implying the supernatural? I may have that last bit about the title wrong. [more inside]
Sometime around 1997/1998 I read a strange book and since then I've forgotten almost all the details. About the only thing I can remember is that there were some creatures who 'spoke' multiple concepts at once. [more inside]