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
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

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
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

Short story with a witch, party crackers, and something prophetic stitched in a hem

I wonder if this could be Malice in Wonderland by Rufus King. Although not by Asimov, it was collected in Isaac Asimov's Witches, published in 1984. The story concerns an old woman, Mrs Fleury, who ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

A story about a girl and a mechanical girl with a tattoo travelling on a train

This is The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. From Goodreads summary and reviews: Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
14 votes
Accepted

Book of short stories I read as a kid; one story about a starving girl, one about a boy who stays forever young

As Sean Duggan has said, the second story is clearly Infinity Jinx by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The first one is almost certainly Dear, dear kitty by Marion Dane Bauer, which is a ghost story in which ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
14 votes

Children's book - eat the dictionary

It does not contain the exact phrase the OP recalls ("Aloha amiable ant"), but otherwise Wally the Wordworm by Clifton Fadiman is a good match. Wally is a bookworm who gets dissatisfied by a ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

British Duke is murdered in elevator. Title is inherited by one of a pair of identical twins, both of whom are suspects

This sounds very much like Ngaio Marsh's book Surfeit of Lampreys, titled Death of a Peer in the United States. From Wikipedia: Lord Wutherwood storms out of the Lampreys' top-floor flat and into the ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
  • 12.1k
12 votes
Accepted

"The Dearest Charms in France" - French story about soldiers, a lottery, and a famous prostitute

This is "Entrance Fee" by Alexander Woollcott. That was how the Cosette Sweepstakes were started. There followed then all the anxious distraction of ways and means, with such Spartan ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
  • 2,581
11 votes
Accepted

Please identify the name and author of a short story about forbidden clocks

This must surely be Chronopolis, one of J.G. Ballard's early short stories, first published in 1963. The story deals with a boy called Conrad Newman who lives in a city where clocks and watches are ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
11 votes

Book about a girl who finds out she's adopted

I think that this is Where We Belong by Emily Giffin, which has the birth mother as the protagonist instead of the girl. From the summary on Goodreads: Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

The Oxford Murders...no, not the one by Martinez

Your recollection of the German title (was a translation published?) suggests Robert Robinson's Landscape with Dead Dons.
henryflower's user avatar
  • 1,016
10 votes
Accepted

Story by S. Maugham or S. Zweig, mother manipulates her husbands to their graves and dies after her daughter's marriage

This is "Louise" by W. Somerset Maugham. Louise outlived her husband. He caught his death of cold one day when they were sailing and Louise needed all the rugs there were to keep her warm. ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
  • 2,581
10 votes
Accepted

Horror novel involving teenagers killed at a beach party for their part in another's (accidental) death

The Rules by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié Description from goodreads.com: It’s Saw meets I Know What You Did Last Summer in this dark thriller by the New York Times bestselling authors of the ...
Ayshe's user avatar
  • 5,041
10 votes

What book is about a teenage girl who likes fire and has "brown silver and gold" hair?

This must be the trilogy by Caroline B. Cooney that's now called the Losing Christina series, consisting of the three books Fog, Snow, and The Fire. From this discussion of Fog (emphasis mine): Our ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
10 votes
Accepted

Story about a community of rats that create art and another that only works and eventually all rats give up on art?

Scott Alexander's 2014 essay Meditations On Moloch includes, among other thought experiments, competing communities of rats on an island: 4​. The Malthusian trap, at least at its extremely pure ...
Vince Bowdren's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

What is the Strand Magazine short story Freud summarizes in "The 'Uncanny'"?

The short story appears to be Inexplicable by L. G. Moberly, published in the Strand Magazine in December 1917. In the article Visualising the Unseen: Supernatural stories and Illustration in The ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Identify a story about time travel with a prehistoric child and a modern-day carer who grows attached to him

"The Ugly Little Boy" a.k.a. "Lastborn", a novelette by Isaac Asimov, first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1958, available at the Internet Archive. You may have ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 3,042
10 votes
Accepted

Looking for a literature book titled "Literature of Fact."

There's "Forms of Literature: A Writer's Collection" by Jacqueline Costello and Amy Tucker from 1989 with such chapters according to the Google Books record. This book is available for ...
Ayshe's user avatar
  • 5,041
9 votes
Accepted

Russian (possibly) story in which a man is too shy to meet his pen-pal

It's a novel by Dostoevsky "Poor People". A novel in letters. The main characters are Makar Devushkin and Varya. Finally she marries another man and they go away from St. Petersburg.
V.V.'s user avatar
  • 254
9 votes

Fantasy children's story where they suspect someone is a vampire

You're describing The Case of the Visiting Vampire by Drew Stevenson. Where did you come from?” I asked Verna. “And why are you dressed like that?” “This is my peasant-girl costume. I told you ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 4,763
9 votes
Accepted

Trying to identify short poem

That sounds like "The Reassurance" by Thom Gunn: About ten days or so After we saw you dead You came back in a dream. I'm alright now you said. And it was you, although You were fleshed out ...
Showsni's user avatar
  • 1,246
8 votes

Who wrote the poem starting "'Tis true my form is something odd"?

The first four lines are from an untitled poem by ‘J. G.’, printed in 1748: The following Lines were sent by a Gentleman a little deformed, to a young Lady he was encouraged to pay his Addresses to; ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
8 votes
Accepted

Looking for a modern fairy-tale in which a prince goes on "impossible" quests for a princess, but ends up marrying a witch who helped him

Prince Amilec by Tanith Lee isfdb.org synopsis: Prince Amilec turns to a witch for help in completing the tasks set for him by the princess he wishes to marry. From the Jud's Creative Writing Medley ...
Ayshe's user avatar
  • 5,041
8 votes
Accepted

Identification of a short story about a girl who loses a protective talisman (A handkerchief with three spots of her mother's blood on it)

I believe this is the Grimms' The Goose-Girl, at least as translated by Margaret Hunt. The princess is sent to marry a prince who lives far away and is given a talisman to keep her safe on the ...
Konrad Schroder's user avatar
8 votes

Book of short stories I read as a kid; one story about a starving girl, one about a boy who stays forever young

The latter story is “Infinity Jinx” by Margaret Peterson Haddix as per this SF&F SE answer. They quote from a now defunct blog: What if children stayed as just that, children? After the terrible ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.5k
8 votes
Accepted

Middle School detective series with two friends from early 2010s

There's The Brixton Brothers Series by Mac Barnett, published 2009-2012. The cover of the third book, It Happened on a Train has children on top of a train, and the fourth book's cover might match ...
Ayshe's user avatar
  • 5,041
7 votes
Accepted

Looking for a novel featuring a scene with an illegal street race, knocking books off the bumper of a car

Steps by Jerzy Kosinski has similar "book-knock-off" scene. It starts on page 123 on the archive.org record and ends with the spoiler: I found it with Google books search for "books&...
Ayshe's user avatar
  • 5,041

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible