61 votes

Did Gaiman and Pratchett troll an interviewer who thought they were religious fanatics?

I asked Mr Gaiman on Twitter to respond, and he did, as well as another person: Aliza "I think and I vote." (@alizatw): To summarize: it's reported but not authoritatively confirmed that @...
Jos's user avatar
  • 1,063
53 votes
Accepted

Did Gaiman and Pratchett troll an interviewer who thought they were religious fanatics?

I haven't found a transcript or recording of that interview, but I did find a transcript of a different interview where the two spoke about that interview: Neil Gaiman: "The first radio ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,705
39 votes

A scientist tries to make a man more intelligent

This is certainly "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes. From Wikipedia: Charlie Gordon is a man with an IQ of 68 who works a menial job as a janitor at a factory, and is attending a ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 1,037
37 votes
Accepted

English short story where a wife makes an investigation officer eat the murder weapon

Lamb To The Slaughter. This was a short story by Roald Dahl that was initially rejected. She owes it to the child to escape discovery if she can. She prepares the leg of lamb that she used as a ...
Niffler's user avatar
  • 919
34 votes
Accepted

Limerick involves a pregnant Scottish woman and anagrams

Sweet Molly MacDougal, in labour, Warned her sister, "It hurts like a sabre. Sin bears a high price, So a girl should think twice What she bares on the braes for a neighbour." Found in ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
30 votes
Accepted

Short Story About a Woman Saving up to Buy a Gift?

"The Gift of the Magi", by O. Henry A husband and wife both buy each other thoughtful gifts, but in the process are forced to sell things (his watch, her hair) which the gifts (a watch chain,...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,705
28 votes
Accepted

1960s kids book with "invisible" dust which people think improves everything but doesn't actually exist

You're thinking of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. Specifically, the story "Ever-so-much-more-so", in which a traveling salesman sells the people a can of oderless, invisible dust that ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 23.9k
28 votes
Accepted

Children’s poem about a boy stuck between the tracks on the underground

This is Michael Rosen's poem "Nightmare", found in his book Mustard, custard, grumble belly and gravy, which is available to borrow on the Internet Archive: I'm down I'm underground I'm ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
27 votes

Identify this American novel set in the Great Depression era, perhaps set in Chicago and focused on meat packing?

Upton Sinclair The Jungle. Set in Chicago Famous for its treatment of the meat packing industry and producing the FDA by horror stories such as you mention. (He was actually trying to induce ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
27 votes
Accepted

What is the name of a short story where a computer insists 2+2 is 5?

This sounds very much like Trurl's Machine (Maszyna Trurla), from Stanislaw Lem's collection of short stories The Cyberiad - except that the computer insisted that two plus two was equal to seven, ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
26 votes

In what Chinese fairy tale does a painter disappear into his own painting?

Seems to be referring to Wu Daozi (680 – c. 760, a Chinese painter of the Tang dynasty), as depicted in the following text: Wu's death was a myth. One story says that after painting a mural about a ...
HeyJude's user avatar
  • 1,584
25 votes

Searching for a sci-fi short story: three robots sent as ambassadors to prevent an interplanetary war

Is it possible that the planet was actually Jupiter? In that case, the story may be Isaac Asimov's Victory Unintentional. To what extent do the characteristics of both descriptions (question and ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.5k
25 votes
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Story about a man who bets his head but not his neck with the devil

This is the story of Loki’s wager with Brokkr, from the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson. Here’s the relevant passage in the retelling by Hélène Guerber: Loki was so pleased with these proofs of the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
24 votes
Accepted

Science fiction short story with the ability to jump from world to world

This strongly reminds me of The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. I distinctly remember a passage about the main character, Joshua Valiente, which matches the quoted passage ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,900
24 votes

Short story about an atomic energy agency van, with a funny surprise ending

This is "Critical Mass" (Wikipedia, ISFDB) by Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1949. From Wikipedia: This comic story describes the relationship between a village and a nuclear research ...
Ubik's user avatar
  • 636
23 votes
Accepted

Dystopian short story read in US high school: boy and man travel through ancient ruins which are actually our modern-day civilisation

I am convinced that this is By the Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benet, a 1937 post-apocalyptic science fiction short story. The story involves a father and son ("My father is a priest; I ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
23 votes

Detective novel: “1.5 gallons of blood doesn’t sound like a lot to most people. Pour 1.5 gallons of milk on your kitchen floor and get back to me.”

Googling finds a possible candidate: A Winsome Murder by James DeVita, from 2015. This doesn't quite match the excerpt Ursula Vernon described, but it's close. It never ceased to amaze Mangan just ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
  • 12.1k
21 votes

In what Chinese fairy tale does a painter disappear into his own painting?

As identified in the answer by HeyJude, this could be the story of the disappearance of Tang dynasty painter Wu Daozi (吴道子; variously transliterated as Wu Tao-tsz’, Wu Tao-Tsu, or Go Doshi). The ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
21 votes
Accepted

Children's book - eat the dictionary

This is "The Story of Lengthwise" by Ernestine Cobern Beyer Lengthwise was a bookworm who made his home in a dictionary. He began life among the A's and started nibbling right away. A-words ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
  • 2,581
20 votes

Children's book with "a ring, a stone, a finger bone"

Could this be “The Winter Players”, from Companions on the Road by Tanith Lee? Googling the phrase quoted in the question led me to this Google Books result She could hear instead a priestess, ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,705
20 votes

Who wrote the short story "Quietly"?

This must surely be the short story Quietly by Theodore Sturgeon. The plot fits perfectly with that recalled by the OP. Quietly is the name of a girl, who is raised by her father, after her mother ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

Sci-Fi Short Story - Life Saving Weight Loss

Typing a few keywords (robot collect animals weight range chase human short story) into google came up with the following story: The Ruum by Arthur Porges published 1953 Synopsis: A shape-shifting, ...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

Looking for an old O. Henry story about a wealthy young man trying to woo a "genteel poor" young lady in New York City

The story is called The Discounters of Money. It occurs in the collection of O. Henry stories called Roads of Destiny. It occupies pages 379 to 384 in this book. …and there you have young Howard ...
ShreevatsaR's user avatar
  • 1,374
17 votes
Accepted

Identify a book about boys living in the woods for a summer

This is almost certainly Brendon Chase by BB. His books are very hard to get now (at least where I live) but you may be able to find the TV series based on it, which stayed quite true to the book. ...
Mirte's user avatar
  • 2,943
17 votes
Accepted

A book about a man finding three people more stupid than his fiancée

The Three Sillies is your story. There are many kids book editions so matching the particular one you saw might be hard. Quoting from the link, So that was another big silly. Then the gentleman went ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
  • 4,135
17 votes
Accepted

US Civil War story: man hanged from a bridge

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", a short story by Ambrose Bierce. The full text is available at Project Gutenberg. Wikipedia plot summary: Peyton Farquhar, a civilian and plantation owner, is ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 3,042
17 votes
Accepted

Identification of an American comics strip about mathematically shaped pancakes

This is a Foxtrot strip from October 14, 2012. Paige: Can you make my pancakes heart-shaped? Roger: Not a problem! Peter: Can you make my pancakes football-shaped? Roger: You got it! Jason: Can you ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.5k
17 votes
Accepted

Seeking story about chess in Soviet Union, probably Playboy c.1980?

Not Playboy, not Penthouse, but Penthouse's sister magazine Omni: "The Chessmen", a short story by William G. Shepherd in Omni, November 1978, reprinted in The Best of Omni Science Fiction ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 3,042
16 votes
Accepted

African dystopia with children on the run

You stated in chat that you found it (and asked someone to post an answer): The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer. From Wikipedia: In the year 2194, in Zimbabwe, the Chief of Security, ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 23.9k

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