Mon
Mar 7 2011 12:15pm

The Jack Dann Game Invades the Best of the Decade Reader’s Poll!

The Man Who Melted by Jack DannAccording to legend, the Jack Dann game was invented by Gardner Dozios when he (or someone) noticed that the novel The Man Who Melted by Jack Dann formed a sentence when one removed the word “by.” Thus, “The Man Who Melted Jack Dann,” and the Jack Dann game was born!

Throughout the years there have been even more examples of this phenomenon such as: “Fear L. Ron Hubbard,” “Earth Abides George R. Stewart,” “Dying Inside Robert Silverberg,” and so on. (Though the all-time favorite of Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden is “Two Sisters Gore Vidal.”)

Patrick also tells us that the strict rules of the Jack Dann game require the title and author to form a grammatically complete sentence. “The Puppet Masters Robert A. Heinlein” is an example of this while, oddly, “The Man Who Melted Jack Dann” is not!

Either way, while looking at our Best of the Decade Reader’s Poll we found several title/author combinations that worked with the Jack Dann game!

Remember, you can download the entire sheet of authors and titles as a Google Doc here. [Download the sheet to get the entire list. Google Docs preview only goes about 3/4ths of the way through the list.]

  • The Darkness That Comes Before R. Scott Bakker (#49)
  • Declare Time Powers (#117)
  • Judas Unchained Peter F. Hamilton (#162)
  • Feed Mira Grant (#146)
  • Feed M.T. Anderson (#489)
  • I Dare Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (#213)
  • Dead Witch Walking Kim Harrison (#390)
  • Victory Conditions Elizabeth Moon (#443)
  • Market Forces Richard K. Mogan (#717)
  • The Sunrise Lands S.M. Stirling (#724)
  • A Stranger to Command Sherwood Smith (#738)
  • Rabbit Tricks C.E. Murphy (#856)
  • Promises to Keep Charles De Lint (#895)

And one our personal favorites (maybe because it has a “Hold Me Closer Tony Danza” ring to it):

  • Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro (#134)

Let us know if you’ve ever played the Jack Dann game and what titles (in any genre) you’ve discovered!

Note: we also loved the fact there were TWO titles which encouraged us to feed an author.


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and voice of the Tor.com staff. Stubby’s first novel will likely be titled The World Loves, thus creating the sentence: The World Loves Stubby the Rocket.

Best SFF Novels of the Decade Readers Poll: ‹ previous | index | next ›
21 comments
Gregory Feeley
1. Gregory Feeley
For what it's worth, I devised this silly game in the early seventies, when I was in high school. (If you look at the spine of the old Bantam editions of Thomas Pynchon's V., you see that the author's name is printed in upper case and in the same typeface as the title, so that it looks like a novel by V. THOMAS PYNCHON with no title. That gave me the idea, and I employed it at odd moments to amuse myself and friends.)

About a dozen years later, I mentioned "The Man Who Melted Jack Dann" to Jack, who evidently told Gardner, who (being well-connected) told a lot of people.

Not a big deal, but FYI.

My favorite, one that I came upon, is:

Clans of the Alphane Moon Philip K. Dick
Gregory Feeley
2. Jay Dugger
1) A Signal Shattered Eric S. Nylund.
2) Venus Plus X Theodore Sturgeon. (best if X read as "cross product")
3) Darkness Weaves Karl Edward Wagner.
4) Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said Philip K. Dick.
Gregory Feeley
3. Evelyn Browne
A Man Rides Through Stephen R. Donaldson.
Gregory Feeley
4. A. W.
The Great Hunt Robert Jordan.
Gregory Feeley
5. Rob T.
I have one which requires removing an apostrophe (along with the "by") to make it grammatically correct, but just sounds too goofy not to share: Cuckoos Egg C. J. Cherryh.
Hannu Blommila
6. HannuB
1) This Is The Way The World Ends James Morrow
2) The Ringworld Engineers Larry Niven
3) When Gravity Fails George Alec Effinger
Gregory Feeley
7. Jon Lennox
My favorites for this game have always been:

Fools Pat Cadigan
I Will Fear No Evil Robert Heinlein.
David Goldfarb
8. David_Goldfarb
A lot of the possible titles for this game are of the pattern "The " when the adjective can be construed as a plural noun, and the noun can be construed as a transitive verb: e.g., The Hallowed Hunt Lois McMaster Bujold, or The Gilded Chain Dave Duncan.

Occasionally the noun is plural and the adjective can be construed as a singular noun: e.g., The Atrocity Archives Charles Stross.

The least interesting form (some people have actually declared this form illegitimate) involves simple apposition, where the title ends in a noun and the author's name can be construed as modifying the noun: e.g., The Horse and His Boy C. S. Lewis, or The Whim of the Dragon Pamela Dean. (Sorry, Jon Lennox, your second one falls into this category.)

Two of the ones I've come up with that I like best:

The First Wives Club Olivia Goldsmith
(I checked this one carefully, and I am not omitting an apostrophe. Omitting apostrophes is not allowed!)

Tim Powers the Anubis Gates

(A slight variation, to be sure.)
Gregory Feeley
9. Toroid
How about these contenders?

Blindfold Kevin J. Anderson
Demons Don't Dream Piers Anthony
The Naked Sun Isaac Asimov
The Green Trap Ben Bova
The Jagged Orbit John Brunner
The Falling Torch Algis Budrys
The Black Star Passes John W. Campbell
The Ghost From the Grand Banks Arthur C. Clarke
Cradle Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee
Needle Hal Clement
The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch Michael G. Coney
Gilded Latten Bones Glen Cook
Shuttle Down Lee Correy
Mars Probes Peter Crowther
The Man Who Japed Philip K. Dick
We Can Build You Philip K. Dick
The Far Call Gordon R. Dickson
The Dark Design Philip Jose Farmer
The Long Orbit Mick Farren
The Mocking Program Alan Dean Foster
The Human Blend Alan Dean Foster
The Black Hole Alan Dean Foster
Camouflage Joe Haldeman
The Black Cloud Fred Hoyle
Mars Crossing Geoffrey A. Landis
Speaking Stones Stephen Leigh
A Logic Named Joe Murray Leinster
The Silk Code Paul Levinson
Byzantium Endures Michael Moorcock
Jerusalem Commands Michael Moorcock
Man Plus Frederik Pohl
Fault Lines Tim Power
Burn Bill Ransom
Eros Ascending Mike Resnick
Eros Descending Mike Resnick
Red Mars Kim Stanley Robinson
Green Mars Kim Stanley Robinson
Blue Mars Kim Stanley Robinson
(should be offered up in an omnibus "Primary Colors Mar Kim Stanley Robinson")
Three to Conquer Eric Frank Russell
Dancing Bears Fred Saberhagen
Crompton Divided Robert Sheckley
The World Inside Robert Silverberg
Those Who Watch Robert Silverberg
The Galaxy Primes E.E. Doc Smith
The Centre Cannot Hold Brian Stableford
Odd John Olaf Stapledon
Death Tolls John E. Stith
The Cosmic Rape Theodore Sturgeon
The World Before Karen Traviss
Judge Karen Traviss
Fuzzy Bones William Tuning
Rainbows End Vernor Vinge
The Watch Below James White
The Black Sun Jack Williamson
Spin Robert Charles Wilson
Brute Orbits George Zebrowski

And not sure if the subject-verb combination works on these:
The Willing Spirit Piers Anthony & Alfred Tella
The Nitrogen Fix Hal Clement
Alien Tongue Stephen Leigh
Enemy Mine Barry B. Longyear
The Quiet War Paul McAuley
Perseus Spur Julian May
Orion Arm Julian May
The Cool War Frederik Pohl
The Callahan Touch Spider Robinson
Berserker Kill Fred Saberhagen
The Demon Breed James H. Schmitz
The Ganymede Club Charles Sheffield
The Iron Dream Norman Spinrad
The Apocalypse Troll David Weber
The Humanoid Touch Jack Williamson
The Domino Pattern Timothy Zahn
Gregory Feeley
10. Jon Lennox
David Goldfarb: I disagree; in my second example, "Evil" is an adjective, and "No Evil Robert Heinlein" is the object of the verb. Apparently good Robert Heinleins are to be feared.

My first example also doesn't fit any of your patterns, and is the interesting example where the author's first name becomes the verb. Obviously there aren't many authors for which this works.
Gregory Feeley
11. RustyM
From the mystery and true crime genres:

A Need to Kill Michael W. Cuneo
A Time to Kill John Grisham
A Warrant to Kill Kathyrn Casey
Close Enough to Kill Beverly Barton
Dead Men Kill L. Ron Hubbard
Dressed to Kill Rick Renner
Easy to Kill Agatha Christie
First to Kill Andrew Peterson
If Books Could Kill Kate Carlisle
License to Kill John Gardner
Mercy Kill Lori G. Armstrong
Reasons to Kill Richard E. Rubenstein
Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill Dave Grossman and Gloria Degaetano
Taught to Kill John B. Babcock
To Have and to Kill Mary Jane Clark
Urge to Kill John Lutz
Why Kids Kill Peter F. Langman
Gregory Feeley
12. Ian P. Johnson
I found two in the Sandman library (but only if you remove the apostrophes).

The Dolls House Neil Gaiman
Worlds End Neil Gaiman

I don't know if "Brief Lives Neil Gaiman" would necessarily count as a proper one, though. It seems like the best words for this game would be nouns that are also verbs. This is an amusing game, and I shall talk about it to everyone.

Oh, one more that I just noticed (if you're willing to let a rather minor pluralization error slide): The Wise Mans Fear Patrick Rothfuss.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
13. tnh
Moving Mars Greg Bear, so mostly he just holds still.
Gregory Feeley
14. Toroid
The Silent Stars Go By James White
Phaze Doubt Piers Anthony
New Dreams For Old Mike Resnick
Liza .
15. aedifica
I'm not at my own collection of books right now--ok, I admit I'm just upstairs from it--but I checked a few online. (I do own most of these, though.)

The Red Signal Grace Livingston Hill
Where Two Ways Met Grace Livingston Hill
The Lives of Christopher Chant Diane Wynne Jones
Power of Three Diana Wynne Jones
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase Joan Aiken
Up the Chimney Down Joan Aiken
The Roads Must Roll Robert Heinlein (short fiction counts, right?)
Water is for Washing Robert Heinlein
Jake Reinvented Gordon Korman
Pop Gordon Korman
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles Patricia C. Wrede
As Above, So Below John M. Ford
Someplace to be Flying Charles de Lint

And the internet also reminds me about the poem, "Spells of Binding Pamela Dean."
Gregory Feeley
16. Ian P. Johnson
Plus a couple of Terry Pratchett ones for good measure…

Moving Pictures Terry Pratchett
Raising Taxes Terry Pratchett
Johnny and the Dead Terry Pratchett

This last one isn't even a proper one, but I lol'd when I thought of it, so here you go:

The Last Continent Terry Pratchett
Drew Holton
17. Dholton
@16

How could you miss ...Witches Abroad Terry Pratchett?, may not be kosher, but it is quite humorous.
Liza .
18. aedifica
From glancing at my bookshelves this morning when I was supposed to be getting ready for work:

The Phoenix Guards Steven Brust (I thought for sure someone must have posted that already, but searching the page didn't find it)

Murder Must Advertise Dorothy Sayers
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Harlan Ellison.
Gregory Feeley
20. Toroid
More Pratchett:

Snuff Terry Pratchett
The Light Fantastic Terry Pratchett
Johnny and the Dead Terry Pratchett


But I gotta admit that "The Last Continent Terry Pratchett" is hilarious!
Gregory Feeley
21. Toroid
Oops... the Johnny and the Dead Terry Pratchett was already listed.

Here's some Alan Dean Foster

The Approaching Storm Alan Dean Foster
Nor Crystal Tears Alan Dean Foster
Sliding Scales Alan Dean Foster
Dinotopia Lost Alan Dean Foster
The False Mirror Alan Dean Foster
The I Inside Alan Dean Foster
Impossible Places Alan Dean Foster
Kingdoms of Light Alan Dean Foster
Primal Shadows Alan Dean Foster
Voyage to the City of the Dead Alan Dean Foster

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