What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

Science Fiction: The Future,
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SOLVED: Adult Fiction > SOLVED. SciFi Short Stories / on Rocking Chairs and Switching Bodies [s]

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message 1: by M— (last edited Nov 14, 2013 10:17AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments Hello, everyone. I'm trying to track down a couple of scifi short stories I read years ago. Do these plots sound familiar to anyone here?

First Short Story, regarding Rocking Chairs:
FOUND : "Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" by Suzette Haden Elgin, printed in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1979.


A woman is on trial for, basically, violating the Prime Directive (it's not a Star Trek story, and I don't actually remember that phrase used in the story, but it was that concept). She was like a dignified observer/anthropologist from another planet, and she was studying the Earth. The woman had been appalled to learn that humans were deaf to the voices of the planet, the music the wind makes and the stories the ocean waves tell, etc. Her crime was for telling these little telepathic, obedient, invisible, friendly pets to populate the Earth, home themselves in rocking chairs, and translate for humans what the planet is saying to them. Every time a human would sit in a rocking chair, the pets would whisper translations to him or her, and the human would be able to learn about Earth through those means. This choice to populate the Earth with these friendly pets could not be undone (I think the pets reproduced much to rapidly to allow the process to be halted, and I think recalling or eradicating the pets were not considered permissible options), the woman was found guilty of her crime, but humans were ultimately left to daydream on their rocking chairs.

I read this in early 2001, but I read a photocopied handout that a professor had provided to my college class, and I believe the story was originally published much earlier.

Second Short Story, on Switching Bodies:

(By request, this story search has been move to a separate thread: link.)

I've already posted this query in LibraryThing's Name That Book! group and in LiveJournal's What Was That Book? community, but I haven't found them yet. I'm hoping that I will be more lucky here!


message 2: by Mike (new)

Mike | 1 comments In regards to the rocking chair story: I found your thread while I was looking for just that short story, but I'm sorry to say that I can't find the title of it quite yet. I read it about a year ago in a class, really liked it, but I had it as a handout as well. I feel like it could be Bradbury, but that's just hazarding a guess. Please let me know if you find out, my email is mnotzon@mac.com


message 3: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
M--I too have read this short story--but I don't remember the title either--or even where I read it.


message 4: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) | 47 comments Wow, they both sound really interesting, but I'm drawing a blank.

Have you tried emailing your professor who assigned the story? I'm sure if you lay down some cool compliments, they'd be game to respond. Especially considering the assigned work has impacted you...


message 5: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments I would definitely consider contacting the professor, but she is no longer employed by that university and I don't have another way to get in touch with her.

I think I might have kept the class syllabus, where the story's title may have been listed, but, if I did, it's in long-term storage stuck inside an unlabeled box amid dozens of other unlabeled boxes. :( It will be months before I can try and dig it out.


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 289 comments M -- if her employer is another university, you may be able to find her by doing a Google search. Or one of her old department colleagues may know how to reach her.

She'll probably be delighted to hear from someone who enjoyed the material, if she's like most professors. :)


message 7: by M— (last edited Jan 22, 2010 10:27AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments Well, maybe. This professor wasn't considered by the university to be a full professor – this particular class was the only one she taught, and it was an irregularly available elective. Because she wasn't a full professor, she wasn't considered a member of the faculty, was never included in the faculty directory, and never had an office. I can contact the university directly and see if I can get in touch with her that way, but I don't know what sort of contact information they might have kept. Hmm.

It looks like my search efforts are moving away from the Internet and off to the telephone tree!


message 8: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) | 47 comments Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to open up a can of worms! Do you think any of your old classmates from the class might remember? (that's probably a long shot...)


message 9: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments Oh, no, I hadn't been complaining! This situation is what we call a challenge.

:( I don't even remember the names of those classmates, let alone have kept up accurate contact with them.


message 10: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
Hum, did the college have a printed synopsis? If so, they might still have a copy of it in their archives. You can check that too.




message 11: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) | 47 comments Heh, yeah - If I was trying to remember classmates from a specific class in college I'd need a wicked talented hypnotist. Or a time machine.

I sure hope it rings some bells with someone out there, because it sounds like a very interesting story!


message 12: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments I might have found the Rocking Chair Story! Or I at least found something that sounds promising! Now it's a matter of tracking down a copy of it and giving it a read.

"Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" by Suzette Haden Elgin, printed in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1979.

Summary: "Explains the real function of rockingchairs in the Ozarks...."

So... does anyone have a copy of this issue of that magazine on hand?


message 13: by Snail in Danger (Sid) (last edited Jul 01, 2010 02:06PM) (new)

Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 289 comments Amazon does. Also these guys, and ebay (the cheapest that I saw).

Good luck laying your hands on a copy. :)


message 14: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1382 comments M-, Great! Do you want to move this to possibly solved or would you rather wait until you know for sure and put it in the appropriate solved folder? Please come back and let us know if these are the stories. Thanks.


message 15: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments I think this story has a good chance of being the right match to my first query, but I still have no idea about the second story I was looking for, the switching bodies one. I'd like to leave this thread in this group for now.


message 16: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1382 comments That's fine. Please let us know when you've found each one.


message 17: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments "Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" is confirmed! I haven't found a reading copy, but a participate in another thread had the magazine issue on hand and was kind enough to give it a look-see. I don't think the story has ever been anthologized. No wonder it was so difficult to find!

I'm still trying to find match a title to the second story, on switching bodies.


message 18: by M. (new) - rated it 4 stars

M. Fenn (mfennvt) | 3 comments Hi, I just stumbled across this thread and wanted to let you know that, yes, "Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" was anthologized. Dick Allen's Science Fiction The Future. That's where I first read it. Wonderful tale. Hope this is helpful, even if it's a couple years since you first asked.


message 19: by Stacy (new)

Stacy | 54 comments That second story sounds REALLY familiar to me... I want to say either Ray Bradbury or Piers Anthony... does that ring a bell?


message 20: by Cheryl is busier irl atm. (last edited Sep 30, 2012 10:15AM) (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) I'm confused though - the anthology is recorded as being copyright 1971 (both here and on half.com where it's being sold for 75 cents). But the magazine is dated 1979. Does anyone know if magazines sometimes use old material like that? I would never have thought so - maybe somewhere there's a typo?


message 21: by Cheryl is busier irl atm. (last edited Sep 30, 2012 10:19AM) (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) And just to make it more interesting, the author's page at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/Bib... lists
"Old Rocking Chair's Got Me"; in Fantasy And Science Fiction, 1974."


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 289 comments F&SF reprinted The Brave Little Toaster a couple years ago. So ... rarely?

I know authors' pages are generally regarded as definitive — for good reason — but barring someone verifying that there is a 1974 F&SF with this story, I'm tempted to think that a typo has crept in.


message 23: by M. (new) - rated it 4 stars

M. Fenn (mfennvt) | 3 comments The version of the anthology I have is the 2nd edition published in 1983.


message 24: by Cheryl is busier irl atm. (last edited Oct 02, 2012 08:55AM) (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) hm - tx
and yes, I should have also checked isfdb.org


message 25: by M— (last edited Oct 02, 2012 09:14AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments M. wrote: "Hi, I just stumbled across this thread and wanted to let you know that, yes, "Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" was anthologized."

Thank you so much for that information!

Stacy wrote: "That second story sounds REALLY familiar to me... I want to say either Ray Bradbury or Piers Anthony... does that ring a bell?"

No bells, sorry! I know I've read works by both Bradbury and Anthony before, but a visit to their ISFDB pages didn't turn up any likely titles. Thanks for suggesting, though!


message 26: by Kate (new)

Kate Farrell | 4070 comments Mod
I shelved the rocking chair story in the Science fiction anthology.

Now we just have to find the second story.


message 27: by Stacy (new)

Stacy | 54 comments I'm still working on it - if it's the same one I remember, the protagonist chose the body of the young man because he (the young man) was confined to a wheelchair and dying, or --- something like that. Something altruistic went on there.
I just skimmed through my Again,Dangerous Visions I and II but didn't see it in there.. I do know it though...
My sweetie suggested Heinlein?


message 28: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments The only Heinlein work I can think of that relates to this is his mind-transplant novel, I Will Fear No Evil, which was an old-to-young switch but focused more on the male-to-female aspect. I googled for short stories of his, but I didn't see anything that matched....


message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I don't recall any Heinlein that matches, either. He has a couple of short time travel stories, but I don't recall a wheel or rocking chair in either.


message 30: by M. (new) - rated it 4 stars

M. Fenn (mfennvt) | 3 comments You're welcome! Happy to help.


message 31: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
Stacy--that's the body switching story that I remember too--he was a middle-aged man (in his original body), successful, but feeling like his wife and kids were taking him for granted, right?

The switch had something to do with travel, I THINK. Don't really remember what it was for, just that there was a major FUBAR, and "they" (meaning the people who ran the transfer process) suddenly didn't know who went with what body. And I know that he was swapped between several bodies, and that everyone was supposed to signal when they landed in their own. The guy that the story was about was "remembering" from body memories who each of the bodies he was put into were. I remember that one of them was a girl who was gay. And the body he finally claimed that was a rich young man who was dieing.


message 32: by Stacy (new)

Stacy | 54 comments YEAH! That one. I still am unable to place it... Could it be one of Piers Anthony's in Anthonology?


message 33: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments Yes, Anna and Stacy, I think we're all remembering the same story. Hurrah! Now if we can figure out which one it was.

I just googled for story summaries of Anthonology, and nothing summarized sounds like the one we're looking for. Actually, none of the summaries sound familiar to me; I probably never read that book.


message 34: by Stacy (new)

Stacy | 54 comments well, it's... it's got a lot of rather racy stories, but iirc, there are some that are more purely s/f as well. I've read a lot of Anthony, Asimov, and Bradbury, and I feel like I have this story in a book I own... but that's not a lot of help...


message 35: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
I know I USED to own the book it was in. The problem is--I am a military brat (and I read this back when it first came out--however long ago that was)and, well, lots and lots of moves later. . .


message 36: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 38267 comments Mod
M-, are you still looking for the second of these stories?


message 37: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments Yup. Want me to clip out that last unsolved story and put it in a separate thread, so that we can retire this one?


Justanotherbiblophile | 1756 comments I know I'd like that.

But, definitely put a link here to the new thread, so anyone following this thread knows where to go looking for the new single thread.


message 39: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments Last unsolved story has been moved to its own thread:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Thanks all for your help with this!


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The Brave Little Toaster (other topics)

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Suzette Haden Elgin (other topics)