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Thread: Sci-fi Literary Plot Contest

  1. #1
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    Sci-fi Literary Plot Contest

    I don't know if this contest will take off, but the idea came to me from the Sci-Fi Literary Quote Contest. Rather than posting a quote from a Sci-Fi story, participants post a brief summary of a plot. This makes it more difficult to just Google the answer, but on the flip side, the summary has to have enough details to be fair. "Person travels to another planet; problems ensue," is definitely a plot summary, but probably hundreds of books and stories would qualify.

    I'll start:

    Grad student invents time machine, then has to find a way to bail himself out of jail in the past.

  2. #2
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    Yay! I was thinking of doing the same just the other day.

    Will give your quote some thought, because I have already lined up a good question myself


  3. #3
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    The Accidental Time Machine, by Haldeman?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    The Accidental Time Machine, by Haldeman?
    Correct, Mike, and thanks for playing! Your go.

  5. #5
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    Thank you. This does stimulate an entirely different section of sub-cranial tissue.

    A man discovers that the secret to living a long life is to spend most of it dead

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    Half-Past Human by T J Bass?

  7. #7
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    That was a plot element in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
    Or was that the secret to evade taxes?


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  9. #9
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    None of the above. At least for the story I am thinking of.

    I can see where the balance between total opacity and dead giveaway could be narrow in this game.

    Let's add:

    Another key is the occasional hearty meal; a VERY hearty meal.

  10. #10
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    I know the story, but I can't come up with the title .

    Fred
    Hey, you! "It's" with an apostrophe means "it is" or "it has." "Its" without an apostrophe means "belongs to it."

    "For shame, gentlemen, pack your evidence a little better against another time."
    -- John Dryden, "The Vindication of The Duke of Guise" 1684

    Earth's sole legacy will be a very slight increase (0.01%) of the solar metallicity.

  11. #11
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    Sounds like Dracula or something else involving vampires

  12. #12
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    I'm sure Nowhere Man knows it.

    The story might be more on the fantasy side of SF, but a man's a man for a that.

    It's set in a seaport.

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    Like I said, the title and author escape me. It's probably in one of my books... somewhere....

    Fred
    Hey, you! "It's" with an apostrophe means "it is" or "it has." "Its" without an apostrophe means "belongs to it."

    "For shame, gentlemen, pack your evidence a little better against another time."
    -- John Dryden, "The Vindication of The Duke of Guise" 1684

    Earth's sole legacy will be a very slight increase (0.01%) of the solar metallicity.

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    It's not The Man Who Awoke, is it?

  15. #15
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    No. As I said, this is harder to do than a simple quote. Let me try again:

    A sailor hooks up with a strange fellow for a night of fine debauchery, and learns that the key to a long AND interesting life is to edit out the dull parts by being dead during them.

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    Tim Powers? John Whitbourn?

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    Nice avatar, Mike!
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  18. #18
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    Checking back, I once used this same (short) story in the lit quote contest.

    As the central character explains, by packing a single day full of all his favorite experiences (eating, drinking, the ladies, the cops, singing, fighting) he's ready to die and stay that way for several decades until the urge to get up again strikes him.

  19. #19
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    Zelazny?

  20. #20
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    The author is closer to Zelazny in spirit than, say, Heinlein. If he is close to anyone else in fantasy/science fiction in the first place. He left for parts unknown in 2002.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    He left for parts unknown in 2002.
    That's turning out to be quite an extensive list!

    I think we can rule out Robert L. Forward and Charles Sheffield...

  22. #22
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    Yes, we can. This whole plot concept seems harder than quotes. It also shows how much plotnapping goes on out there.

    Look not for hard SF, but a short story viewed through the eyes of Sour John.

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    Despite what I said in my previous post, I had it narrowed down to either Lafferty or Effinger. You've basically given away that it's Lafferty although I haven't a clue what story it might be since I haven't read a lot of his work and especially not recently.

  24. #24
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    OK, I finally did some research, given the clue of the author's name (I was thinking Sturgeon for a while). "One at a Time" by Lafferty. Darned if I know whether I have a copy, but I know I've read it.

    And for what it's worth, a quote from this story wouldn't have been any easier, for me at least

    Fred
    Hey, you! "It's" with an apostrophe means "it is" or "it has." "Its" without an apostrophe means "belongs to it."

    "For shame, gentlemen, pack your evidence a little better against another time."
    -- John Dryden, "The Vindication of The Duke of Guise" 1684

    Earth's sole legacy will be a very slight increase (0.01%) of the solar metallicity.

  25. #25
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    I just found the story in Orbit 4. I must have first read this story over 25 years ago but I didn't remember it at all. I just re-read it -- fun stuff.

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    Yay yay!

    Give it a go, Fred.

  27. #27
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    It appears that this quiz is taking a while to get up to speed, but I think it's worth persisting with it.

    Perhaps do two plotlines and you only have to guess one?

  28. #28
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    Nah. Actually, I think identifying a plot is easier that a random quote, because it contains more information.

    Here's a novel that was published under two different names. I'll accept either one.
    Cheap-and-easy matter duplication device causes massive economic upheaval. Society degenerates into slavery-based economy. One local dynasty is propagated by repeatedly duplicating the daughter of the inventor of the duplicator, to be the mother of the next generation. Revolt eventually sets in.
    Fred
    Hey, you! "It's" with an apostrophe means "it is" or "it has." "Its" without an apostrophe means "belongs to it."

    "For shame, gentlemen, pack your evidence a little better against another time."
    -- John Dryden, "The Vindication of The Duke of Guise" 1684

    Earth's sole legacy will be a very slight increase (0.01%) of the solar metallicity.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nowhere Man View Post
    Nah. Actually, I think identifying a plot is easier that a random quote, because it contains more information.

    Here's a novel that was published under two different names. I'll accept either one.

    Fred
    Sounds a bit like Charles Stross's Singularity Sky, apart from bits of it!

  30. #30
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    Sounds like Damon Knight's 'A For Anything', but I read it a looong time ago. I do remember that it was a typical (i.e., good) Knight extrapolation of the essential character of human nature.

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