Wed
Nov 24 2010 11:54am

SFContario Party Game: Fannish Fortune Cookies

Fantasy fortune cookiesAt the SFContario “All Worldcons All the Time Bheer Tasting,” Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and I invented the game of “Fannish fortune cookies.” You know how fortune cookies have a cryptic little phrase of advice, applicable to anyone in any circumstance? Well, how about applicable quotes from science fiction, like “You are trapped in that bright moment where you learned your doom” (Samuel R. Delany, The Fall of the Towers) or “Christ, what an imagination I’ve got!” (John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar.)

They have to be short—you can’t fit that much onto a fortune cookie. And the funniest ones aren’t just catchphrases but things which it’s possible to interpret as gnomic ambivalent advice if you didn’t know the context and you just happened to find one in a fortune cookie.

At the event Teresa put up a sheet for people to add their own, and I thought this might be a fun game to continue here.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • “Can you feel anything when I do this?” (Robert Sheckley)
  • “Hexapodia is the key insight.” (Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep)
  • “Oft evil shall evil mar.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)
  • “Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)
  • “...to wound the autumnal city.” (Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren)
  • “Space is wide and good friends are too few.” (C.J. Cherryh)
  • “Brightly woven!” (Guy Gavriel Kay, Fionavar Tapestry)
  • “The enemy’s gate is down.” (Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game)
  • “I’m sure they’ll listen to reason.” (Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash)
  • “If all men were brothers, would you let one marry your sister?” (Theodore Sturgeon)
  • “The one thing you can’t give for your heart’s desire is your heart.” (Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory)
  • “We’ll make it to the ships.” (Ken MacLeod, The Stone Canal)

Add your own in the comments. (Or make your own with this handy Fortune Cookie Generator.)


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and eight novels, most recently Lifelode. She has a ninth novel coming out in January, Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

54 comments
Pamela Adams
1. Pam Adams
Simplex, complex or multiplex?
(Samuel R. Delany, Empire Star)
Douglas Merrill
2. merrilld
Funny once. (Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress)
Douglas Merrill
3. merrilld
Where is the which of the what-she-did? (Cordwainer Smith, “The Ballad of Lost C’mell”)
Douglas Merrill
4. merrilld
All the way to demolition. (Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man)
z drake cupsford
5. zdrakec
And another from The Demolished Man:

Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun.

zdrakec
bluebee
6. bluebee
Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar. (Jim Butcher, Dead Beat)
bluebee
7. RedWorld
Fear is the mind-killer. (Frank Herbet, Dune)
Sim Tambem
8. Daedos
Quotes are good, but what about allusions?

Keep your towel handy.
(HGttG, Douglas Adams)

Walk with uneaven steps to avoid Shai Hulud.
(Dune, Frank Herbert)

When confronted with a dificult decision, seek the Void.
(tWoT, Robert Jordan)
Liza .
9. aedifica
Are movies eligible? I think Yoda's "Do or do not, there is no try" would work admirably on a fortune cookie.
Risa Wolf
10. lupa
Public behavior may be circumscribed within reason. - This Alien Shore, C. S. Friedman

There was always the next thing to be done. - Tehanu, Ursula K. Leguin

Live in the moment. Hold to it tightly. But charge not the gods to explain. - A Rose For Ecclesiastes, Roger Zelazny
Gristle McNerd
11. GristleMcNerd
"Don't Panic" - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

"There are four lights" - Star Trek TNG

That's all I can come up with right now.
bluebee
12. Wolfgangvuk
"42" - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Bill Spangler
13. Bspangler
Jo:There's no way you could know this, of course, but we served fortune cookies with fannish fortunes at the 1983 edition of Paracon, a relaxacon that ran in Central Pennsylvania in the late 1970s and early '80s. A lot of the fortunes came from my friend Carolyn Meredith and they included "Down Styphon!" from Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper. One that I know I wrote was the one I used to propose to my wife, Joyce.
bluebee
14. dwndrgn
I believe Patrick Rothfuss did this at a Worldcon or Wiscon a couple of years ago. He had the actual cookies created and the innards were quotes from his book as well as stuff his fans came up with that were just ridiculously random. Fun.

@ bluebee - that is one of my favorite quotes! Makes me giggle just reading it.
bluebee
15. Snarf
More movie quotes:

"I have a bad feeling about this..."
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

"Only Nixon could go to China."
p l
16. p-l
"How could it be otherwise?"

- Jack Vance (in many of his books, and always ironically)
Jed Reinert
17. Durandal
"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."

-Dune (film)
Jo Walton
18. bluejo
Bspangler: I suppose it is an obvious idea. And using one to propose is awesome.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." Foundation.

"Night gathers and now my watch begins." Game of Thrones.
bluebee
20. politeruin
'To the Sea!'
-Rendevous with Rama
bluebee
21. LAJG
When I was in high school, the rule for fortune cookies was to end each fortune with "...in bed".
Jo Walton
22. bluejo
LAJG: If hexapodia is the key insight in bed, you should see a therapist.
bluebee
23. hidden20
twisting the twisted back on the twister

(Brent weeks)
bluebee
24. WheelOfTimefreak
"Of course they can fly, thats why they have wings!"

(F'lar, in Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey)
Pamela Adams
25. Pam Adams
When I was in high school, the rule for fortune cookies was to end each fortune with "...in bed".

Since they are fannish fortune cookies, perhaps we should end each one with 'in the bar.'
bluebee
26. Lalo Telling
"You scream, and you leap."

Speaker-to-Animals, Ringworld (Niven)
David Galiel
27. galiel
My God - it's full of stars!
- 2001

Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here? Where are you going?
- Babylon 5

Anything you think can be held against you.
- We Remember It For You Wholesale

It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for
subtlety.
- Foundation

Lithium is no longer available on credit.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.
- Repo Man
bluebee
28. hapax
"Some men give their wives flowers." -- Plan B.

"Never give up. Never surrender." -- Galaxy Quest.
Michael Burke
29. Ludon
"Let the wookie win." -- Star Wars

"Let him go. Stay on the leader." -- Star Wars

"Put it as 'Money In' and 'Money Out' then leave it at that." - from Max Headroom

"Equalize! Equalize on both sides." Small Change, Francois Truffaut (Source not science fiction but when taken out of context it sounds like it could be sci-fi.)
bluebee
30. a.v willis
"You don't have to eat the whole turd to know that it's not a crab cake."Shadows of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card
bluebee
31. grimmwire
"The street finds its own uses for things." -- William Gibson, "Burning Chrome".

"Futility is freedom!" -- Bruce Sterling, "Twenty Evocations".

"Gaea says not why she spins." -- John Varley, _Titan_.
bluebee
32. weregopher
"Yngvi is a LOUSE!"
"The Roaring Trumpet" DeCamp & Pratt

"Where there is beer you will find pretzils"
"Doon" Ellis Weiner
bluebee
34. shelleybear
"Always a nice day somewhere sir"*

"The Stars My Destination"
bluebee
35. EmmetAOBrien
The reward for work well done is more work.
bluebee
36. Wordweaverlynn
"Scanners live in vain." -- Cordwainer Smith

"I'm not the person I remember."
-- Rheya, "Solaris"

"The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head." -- Terry Pratchett

"Anything you think can be held against you." -- Phillip K. Dick, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"

"There is more than one road to the City." -- Ursula K. Le Guin (we're using this as a tagline for FOGcon 2011)
bluebee
37. Christopher Byler
"If I can do it, you can do it." -- Miles Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold, various)

"Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards." -- Aral Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold, _A Civil Campaign_)

"Since no one is perfect, it follows that all great deeds have been accomplished out of imperfection. Yet they were accomplished, somehow, all the same." -- Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold, _Mirror Dance_)

"Carry on imperfectly." -- The Bastard (Lois McMaster Bujold, _Paladin of Souls_) (I've always thought this was a deliberate reference to the previous, even though the books are set in completely unrelated universes -- why would that stop a god, anyway?)

...Yeah, I know they're all the same author. I just can't think of any equally good ones by anyone else...
bluebee
38. hapax

Not exactly sf, but: "Could be worse. How? Could be raining." -- Young Frankenstein.
bluebee
39. politeruin
#27 galiel
Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here? Where are you going?
- Babylon 5

Oh man, that's a good'un.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
-Farscape
bluebee
40. sylvia_rachel
"They have made their bed; now let them eat it." --Jack Aubrey, in H.M.S. Surprise (I think I've got the quote right, but possibly not. It's something like that, anyway.)

"Anything worth doing is worth doing well." --Countess Vorkosigan, in ... I forget.

"Aim high. You may still miss the target, but at least you won't shoot your own foot off." -- Elli Quinn, in ... I also forget.

"We must be what we are, or we become our enemies.
-- A Song for Arbonne

"Everything not forbidden is compulsory." -- The Sword in the Stone

Ordinarily I have all sorts of these things kicking about in my head, but they tend to vanish as soon as I want them...
Kevin Maroney
41. womzilla
The meaning of tragedy is: It only hurts a little while. (Peter Straub, "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff")

When winter comes, can spring be far behind? (John Crowley, Little, Big)

The purpose of power is power. (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four)

In order to see, you must be seen. (William Messner-Loebs, The Necronomicon )

It would probably be cheating to use the faux Chinese aphorisms which abound in the Kai Lung stories.
bluebee
42. akicif
Quotecards, anyone?
bluebee
43. anneonymous
Ahem. Tolkien wrote "Oft evil will shall evil mar." It's the intention that mars the deed.
bluebee
44. Tatterbots
"He will knock four times."
-- Doctor Who

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
-- Harry Potter
William S. Higgins
45. higgins
This one is not from SF, but it partakes of an SFish feeling:

"It's so difficult to explain to people who are used to the Web why, before the Web, it was so difficult to explain to people what the Web was all about." (Sir Tim Berners-Lee)
Madeline Ferwerda
46. MadelineF
"Never do for yourself what you can con an expert into doing for you" - Elli Quinn quoteing Miles Vorkosigan in _Ethan of Athos_

I know you were anti-catchphrase, but I would love to get a fortune cookie with, "The cake is a lie" or "Take off every zig"

"What science can synthesize, science can analyze and duplicate" E.E. "Doc" Smith, _Galactic Patrol_ (from memory)

Not SF, but beloved anyway: "Find /hungry/ samurai" and "So. Again we are defeated. The farmers have won. Not us."
Liza .
47. aedifica
"Think before you think before you think before you act."
- Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, by Daniel Pinkwater
bluebee
48. Naomi Kritzer
The truth is out there.

Trust no one.

Deny everything.

--The X-Files (all three)
bluebee
49. 12stargazers
Go forth and report when you do great works. - Mirror Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold.

You'll only be called "fishpuppy" until someone else does something stupid. -- Terrier by Tamora Pierce

I was so afraid for you that I forgot to be afraid for your enemies. --Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold

The only two questions you need to ask is "Will they be loyal" and "can they shoot straight". - Lee & Miller

Wizards and electronics don't mix. - Jim Butcher

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
bluebee
50. MJSS
"Always forbidden, on occasion mandatory."
-The Infinity Concerto, Greg Bear

"Nothing fails like Success."
-Mistress Masham's Repose, T. H. White

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."
-Foundation, Isaac Asimov
David Dyer-Bennet
52. dd-b
I'm unreasonably fond of many sorts of fortune cookie messages, including these kind. So thanks!

Back in the...late 70s or mid 80s, I guess...we made fortune cookies, with our own messages, for a fannish fund-raising dinner. Since this was before I had a computer, I don't have any real hope of still having a record of what the fortunes actually were, though.

Here's one that actually fits this series -- "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of Elderberries!" (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, of course)

One that might have been there, though -- "Americium, you dope! Americium!" - The Clones, P. T. Olemy

Another kind I like are "fractured fortunes" -- traditional ones twisted 90 degrees some bizarre direction.

"Your aim is high and to the right"

"You will attract creative and talented people to your basement."

"Your business will assume vast proportions, before its collapse."

"Your step will soil many countries."

"You will soon meet a person who will plan an important role with your wife."

"Your lover will never wish to leave you, though you will want them to."

"Your nature depends on love and your libido demands it."

"Your ship finally came in, but it came in at Duluth, and it's
stuck in the ice ."
bluebee
53. Teka Lynn
"Think blue, count two, and look for a red shoe."
Vicki Rosenzweig
54. vicki
You are here. Where the hell did you think you were?

--Pat Cadigan (maybe from Synners)
Marius Gedminas
55. mgedmin
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards -- Tolkien

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