Searching for a story read long ago....

Joined
May 11, 2017
I’m looking for the title and author of a story I recall reading while teaching a high school English elective class in Science Fiction in the early 1970s. Recalling some main plot points, it is likely I came across it in a fantasy or sci-fi anthology.

It’s a story about a reader in this mundane world who drags himself home at the end of the day to gain some mental stimulus in reading a book about some fantastic adventurer who only wants to escape his hectic life by reading a book which turns out to feature the afore-mentioned mundane reader as central character. Each seeks the other as needed fictional subject matter. I remember thinking how the circularity of this story was likely inspired by Borges or Cortazar, reflective of the boom in magic realism of late-sixties, early seventies imaginations. I do remember that the more fantastic, less mundane reader was aboard some version of a freighter on what I took to be some alien ocean. Help!?!
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
I'm drawing on blank coming up with a story with that premise.

Unfortunately the only thing that is coming to mind is the movie Stranger Than Fiction from 2006 but I know that's not what you're after. Sorry. :(
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
I searched some keywords and came up with nothing as well.
Perhaps a bit more information?
Was it hard cover or paperback?
Did you get it from a school, university, public library or a book store?
If so, which one?
Do you recall any character or place names in the book?
Was there a significant part of the adventurer's adventure that could be searched?
Was it a novel or a short story, epic?
Was the author well-known or a one up.
Was it an American or British author?
Who was the publishing company?
Was it young adult or mature readers slanted?

Fantastic Fiction - Fantasy

If you can find similar authors perhaps we can narrow down the search a bit.

Jorge Luis Borges

Julio Cortázar
 
Joined
May 11, 2017
I searched some keywords and came up with nothing as well.
Perhaps a bit more information?
Was it hard cover or paperback?
Did you get it from a school, university, public library or a book store?
If so, which one?
Do you recall any character or place names in the book?
Was there a significant part of the adventurer's adventure that could be searched?
Was it a novel or a short story, epic?
Was the author well-known or a one up.
Was it an American or British author?
Who was the publishing company?
Was it young adult or mature readers slanted?

Fantastic Fiction - Fantasy

If you can find similar authors perhaps we can narrow down the search a bit.

Jorge Luis Borges

Julio Cortázar
Thanks for your efforts, Tom.
This book was a sample larger-format paperback sf short story anthology from a textbook company. (Perhaps Harcourt Brace.) The title may have been something like "At the Wheel" or "On the Wheel," perhaps a reference to the wheel of the ship, of which the fantasy character was captain or crewman. (But that title memory may well be inaccurate. The author's name did not stick with me, obviously, but could have been an up-and-comer, likely American. The story would have been broadly "appropriate" for more sophisticated readers of h.s. age, however, the textbook target may well have been intro elective course college students.
Gene Wolfe is one author I was recommended to search, but after reading three volumes of his early short stories, I can't locate the target. I had my hopes high for Wolfe because of his style and themes, but now I have my doubts. (I enjoy reading him, however, so that's a gain as a discovery.)
I do appreciate any insights or advice you could offer.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
H. Rider Haggard, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Philip Frances Nowlan, Edward Page Mitchell and Jack London



The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction features over a 150 years’ worth of the best science fiction ever collected in a single volume. The fifty-two stories and critical introductions are organized chronologically as well as thematically for classroom use. Filled with luminous ideas, otherworldly adventures, and startling futuristic speculations, these stories will appeal to all readers as they chart the emergence and evolution of science fiction as a modern literary genre. They also provide a fascinating look at how our Western technoculture has imaginatively expressed its hopes and fears from the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century to the digital age of today.

 
Joined
May 11, 2017
Tom, I just had the unusual experience of recalling, out of the blue, the title and author of the story I posted about. And there are ironies about this. Title and Author popped into my head: "On the Wheel" by Damon Knight. Of course, he's the author best known for "To Serve Man." How appropriate. So thanks for all of your efforts on my behalf. Because of your question prompts, the answers emerged from my own head! So now I have a copy of ONE SIDE LAUGHING by Knight on the way from Amazon:
"This collection of 16 stories and one novella are, as the title claims, "unlike other stories"; some, however, are like others here. "On the Wheel" and "La Ronde" both give a feel of Escher's Print Gallery : both stories have two characters, each of whom reads about the "fictonal" actions of the other." I strongly recommend.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Thanx!

Damon Knight
upload_2017-5-21_1-17-10.jpeg

(Damon Francis Knight)
(1922 - 2002)
Husband of Kate Wilhelm

Knight's first professional sale was a cartoon drawing to a science-fiction magazine. His first story, "Resilience", was published in 1941.

Series
CV
1. CV (1985)
2. The Observers (1988)
3. A Reasonable World (1991)

Novels
Hell's Pavement (1955)
aka The Analogue Men
A for Anything (1959)
Masters of Evolution (1959)
The People Maker (1959)
The Sun Saboteurs (1961)
Beyond the Barrier (1964)
Mind Switch (1965)
aka The Other Foot
Off Centre (1965)
The Rithian Terror (1965)
The Earth Quarter (1970)
World without Children (1970)
The World and Thorinn (1980)
The Man in the Tree (1984)
Double Meaning (1991)
God's Nose (1991)
Why Do Birds (1992)
Humpty Dumpty (1996)

Omnibus
Two Novels (1974)
Rule Golden and Double Meaning (1991)
Earth Quarter / Envoy to New Worlds (2011) (with Keith Laumer)
Web of the Worlds / Rule Golden (2012) (with Harry Harrison and Katherine MacLean)
Far Out, In Deep, Off Centre, Turning On (2014)

Collections
Far Out (1961)
In Deep (1963)
Turning On (1966)
Natural State (1975)
The Best of Damon Knight (1976)
Damon Knight Short Stories, Vol. 1 (1979)
Rule Golden (1979)
Better than One (1980) (with Kate Wilhelm)
Late Knight Edition (1985)
One Side Laughing (1991)
The Star Beast (2010)
Feast of Demons (2010) (with William Morrison)

Novellas
Special Delivery (2010)
The Worshippers (2011)
Ask Me Anything (2011)
Four in One (2011)

Series contributed to
Nebula Award Stories
Nebula Award Stories 1 (1966)

Anthologies edited
A Century of Science Fiction (1963)
First Flight (1963)
A Century of Great Short Science Fiction Novels (1964)
Tomorrow X 4 (1964)
13 French Science Fiction Stories (1965)
Beyond Tomorrow (1965)
The Dark Side (1965)
Cities of Wonder (1966)
Orbit 1 (1966)
Orbit 2 (1967)
Science Fiction Inventions (1967)
The Shape of Things (1967)
Worlds to Come (1967)
The Metal Smile (1968)
One Hundred Years of Science Fiction (1968)
Orbit 3 (1968)
Orbit 4 (1968)
Towards Infinity (1968)
Orbit 5 (1969)
Dimension X (1970)
Orbit 6 (1970)
Orbit 7 (1970)
Orbit 8 (1970)
Orbit 11 (1972)
Orbit 9 (1972)
A Science Fiction Argosy (1972)
A Pocketful of Stars (1972)
Orbit 10 (1972)
Perchance to Dream (1973)
Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1973)
The Golden Road (1974)
Orbit 12 (1974)
Orbit 14 (1974)
Elsewhere X 3 (1974)
Happy Endings (1974)
Orbit 15 (1974)
A Shocking Thing (1974)
Orbit 13 (1974)
Orbit 16 (1975)
Orbit 17 (1975)
Science Fiction of the Thirties (1975)
Orbit 18 (1976)
Best from Orbit One to Ten (1976)
Orbit 19 (1977)
First Contact (1978)
Science Fiction of the 40s (1978) (with Frederik Pohl)
Western Classics from the Great Pulps (1978)
Orbit 20 (1978)
Orbit 21 (1980)
First Voyages (1981) (with Martin H Greenberg and Joseph Olander)
The Clarion Awards (1984)
Westerns of the 40's (1998)

Non fiction
Charles Fort (1971)
The Futurians (1977)
Turning Points (1977)
Creating Short Fiction (1982)
In Search of Wonder (1996)

Anthologies containing stories by Damon Knight
Things (1951)
The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction 5th Series (1956)
Best SF 3 (1958)
Three from Out There (1959)
13 Great Stories of Science Fiction (1960)
Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales (1963)
Spectrum 4 (1965)
An ABC of Science Fiction (1966)
Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction (1966)
Tomorrow's Children (1966)
Dangerous Visions 2 (1967)
Science Fiction Horizons No. 1 (1968)
The Others (1969)
Robert Silverberg's Worlds of Wonder (1969)
The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973)
Modern Science Fiction (1974)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6 (1977)
100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories (1978)
The End of Summer (1979)
Science Fiction of the Fifties (1979)
Aliens! (1980)
The Golden Age of Science Fiction (1981)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year 11 (1982)
The Second Omni Book of Science Fiction (1984)
100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories (1984)
Universe 14 (1984)
Great Science Fiction of the 20th Century (1987)
Masters of Darkness 2 (1988)
The Norton Book of Science Fiction (1993)
Christmas Forever (1993)
Invaders! (1993)
Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens (1995)
Nebula Awards 30 (1996)
Modern Classics of Fantasy (1997)
Timegates (1997)
Year's Best SF 2 (1997)
The Playboy Book of Science Fiction (1998)
Immortals (1998)
The Young Oxford Book of Aliens (1998)
Technohorror (1999)
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Short stories

Double Meaning [short story]
In the Beginning
Not with a Bang (1949)
To Serve Man (1950)
Ask Me Anything (1951)
Cabin Boy (1951)
The Analogues (1952)
Beachcomber (1952)
Ticket to Anywhere (1952)
Anachron (1953)
Babel II (1953)
Four in One (1953)
Special Delivery (1953)
Rule Golden [short story] (1954)
The Country of the Kind (1955)
You're Another (1955)
Extempore (1956)
The Last Word (1956)
Stranger Station (1956)
The Dying Man (1957)
The Enemy (1957)
An Eye for a What? (1957)
Be My Guest (1958)
Eripmav (1958)
Idiot Stick (1958)
Thing of Beauty (1958)
The Handler (1960)
Time Enough (1960)
Forever (1981)
O (1983)
Strangers on Paradise (1986)
Not a Creature (1993)
Fortyday (1994)
Life Edit (1996)
The Big Pat Boom (1963)
God's Nose [short story] (1964)
Maid to Measure (1964)
Shall the Dust Praise Thee? (1967)
Masks (1968)

Related Authors
Poul Anderson
C M Kornbluth
Ursula K Le Guin

Nancy Kress

Lisa Kleypas
E E Knight

Caitlin Kittredge

Gini Koch

Lois McMaster Bujold
Dean Koontz

Kate Wilhelm

Richard A Knaak

Greg Keyes
Otis Adelbert Kline

Ellen Klages

Alanna Knight
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
Tom, I just had the unusual experience of recalling, out of the blue, the title and author of the story I posted about. And there are ironies about this. Title and Author popped into my head: "On the Wheel" by Damon Knight. Of course, he's the author best known for "To Serve Man." How appropriate. So thanks for all of your efforts on my behalf. Because of your question prompts, the answers emerged from my own head! So now I have a copy of ONE SIDE LAUGHING by Knight on the way from Amazon:
"This collection of 16 stories and one novella are, as the title claims, "unlike other stories"; some, however, are like others here. "On the Wheel" and "La Ronde" both give a feel of Escher's Print Gallery : both stories have two characters, each of whom reads about the "fictonal" actions of the other." I strongly recommend.
Great to hear you found the answer! Between your recommendation and Tom posting some of his works I'll be adding some to my next Amazon book shopping spree. :)
 
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Joined
May 11, 2017
Hi, Kevin. You may find Julio Cortazar interesting interesting to compare in his collection BLOW-UP. I am sure that Damon Knight was influenced by J.C.'s "Continuity of Parks" and "The Night Face Up." I'm interested in the way that South American Magic Realism became a natural influence for American fantasy and science fiction authors. (Jorge Luis Borges is included as science fiction in the VanderMeers' BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION and their other big anthology THE WEIRD. These contexts are more than slightly appropriate for Magic Realism.
 
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