Dec 22 2012 10:00am

Play the First Line Game With Us

Play the First Line Game With Us

The First Line Game was originally introduced to us by Jo Walton back in 2008 and we tend to bring it back out about once a year for fun during holidays. Come play it with us!

The rules:

1.) In the comments below, list unattributed first lines from novels that you  want other commenters to identify. This being, let’s try to stick to SFF and its many sub-genres.

2.) First lines should be in italics. Answers not. It’ll also be helpful to your fellow commenters to post “@[comment number]” before you answer. If you’re answering and posting first lines at the same time, list the answers first.

3.) Feel free to let other commenters know they answered correctly! Don’t leave us hangin’.

Just to get things rolling, we’ll start you off with one:

I am a very old man; how old I do not know.

Have at it!

Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of The first line in all of Stubby’s books is When the nebula came, even the false nebula, there were no problems except the whole thing about shields and sensors being useless.

Zack Weinberg
1. zwol
From last time, still unguessed:

She was made after the time of ribs and mud. By papal decree there were to be no more people born of the ground or from the marrow of bones.

and a new one:

Everything I am about to tell began with a scrap of unfamiliar handwriting on an envelope.
D. Bell
2. SchuylerH
"I am a very old man": A Princess of Mars (ERB)

"She was made after the time of ribs and mud": The People of Paper, Salvador Plascencia.

"Everything I am about to tell you": Mount Analogue,
René Daumal.

And a new one: "I find it ironic that I should be invited to write a few introductory words to this book, as I know as little about the subject as it is possible to know."
Tim May
3. ngogam
@2: "I find it ironic that I should be invited to write a few introductory words to this book, as I know as little about the subject as it is possible to know." is _The Islanders_ by Christopher Priest.


The Respectable Mergan had achieved his post, Superintendent at the Carfaunge Spaceport, largely because the position demanded a tolerance for unalterable routine.
Nick Rogers
4. BookGoblin

"She was made after the time of ribs and mud..." is from The Paper People by Salvador Ple-something. It was a book I got an ARC/Review copy of off of GoodReads and remains the strangest thing I've ever had on paper. Like fractal chain of Salvador Dali paintings. was weird.

New First Line:

Be warned: this book has no literary merit whatsoever; It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and willfully bizarre.

Which was perhapst the truest first sentence in genre history.
5. pCiaran
Marune: Alastor 933 by Jack Vance

One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten.
6. pCiaran
Sorry, @3: Marune: Alastor 933 by Jack Vance

One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten.
D. Bell
7. SchuylerH
@ngogam: Yes, an easy one to start off. Your opener sounds like either Vance or a good quality imitator. Am I close? pCiaran got it while I was typing.

@BookGoblin: It's not regrettably accurate first line of The Sommnambulist, is it?

Here's another: "He woke counting seconds, rising through interminable strata of ebony chill to warmth, light and a growing awareness."
D. Bell
8. SchuylerH
@pCiaran: Is it "The Darkness That Comes Before"?
D. Bell
10. SchuylerH
@lerenardvert: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
11. pCiaran
@7 and @8

SchuylerH, well identified. The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker. One of those, glad I read it, some bits were great, other bits not so much, kind of ones.
D. Bell
12. SchuylerH
@pCiaran: It had two sequels, didn't it?

Another new one: "Quite simply, the answer is - because they are there!"
13. GarageOffice
A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.
D. Bell
14. SchuylerH
@GarageOffice: The opening quote of Dune.
Joe Romano
15. Drunes
Nothing in Francis Lostwax's past experience had prepared him for the sudeen disappearance of his native planet.
16. Barsil
@Drunes The wine of violence

One thing was certain, the white kitten had nothing to do with it- it was he black kittens fault entirely.
17. Wathira
Tal stretched out his hand and pulled himself up onto the next out-thrust spike of the Tower.
18. Wathira
@Barsil Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass
19. barsil
@wathira The Seventh Tower

The past is but the begining of a begining, and all that is or has been is but the twilight of the dawn.
D. Bell
20. SchuylerH
@Barsil: Through the Looking-Glass.

@Wathira: The Seventh Tower: The Fall
Michael Walsh
21. MichaelWalsh
"On a warm July evening of the year 1588, in the royal palace of
Greenwich, London, a woman lay dying, an assassin’s bullets lodged in
abdomen and chest."
D. Bell
22. SchuylerH
@Barsil: Is it The Discovery of the Future?
24. TheMadLibrarian
Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.

Barsil: Throught he Looking-Glass, by Carroll
26. barsil
@ShulerH Yes

Every thing must have a begining,and that begining must be linked to something that came before.
27. TheMadLibrarian
@barsil: The Discovery of the Future, by Wells
28. TheMadLibrarian
"The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory."

Barsil: Frankenstein, by Shelley
Rebecca Brothers
30. RileyC
@lerenardvert Is it "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?"
31. GarageOffice
@TheMadLibrarian...Snow Crash

Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather; were passing through each other.
33. barsil
@themadlibraian Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

She came out of the storejust in tme to see her young son paying on the sidewalk in the path of the gray, gaunt man who strode the center of the walk like a mechanical derilect
35. barsil
The year 1866 was marked by a strange event, an unexplainable occurrence which is undoubtebly still fresh in everyones mind.
D. Bell
36. SchuylerH
1999: Towards the end of things, someone asked Michael Kearney, "How do you see yourself spending the first minute of the new millennium?"
38. barsil
@SchuylerH Light by M John Harrison

This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.
39. TheMadLibrarian
Light, by Harrison

"The manhunt extended across more tha one hundred lightyears and eight centuries."
40. AnotherLibrarian
The trouble with most warlocks is that they talk too much.
41. TheMadLibrarian
@ Barsil: The Princess Bride, by Goldman. A true classic.
43. TheMadLibrarian
@ Barsil: The Princess Bride, by Goldman. A true classic.
44. TheMadLibrarian
Sorry about the duplicate post -- this is waht I wanted to say:
"I see in Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to inspect, license, examine -- and tax -- public food vendors operating within municipal pressure."
45. TheMadLibrarian
Another Librarian (great name, BTW!): the Butterfly Kid, by Anderson
47. TheMadLibrarian
"I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday."

We're getting some goodies here!

@Prince Jvstin: The Mask of the Sun, by Saberhagen
50. barsil
Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.
51. GarageOffice
@TheMadLibrarian...Old Man's War

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen.
52. TheMadLibrarian
@ PrinceJvstin: Nah. I'm actually on Reference today, with easy Internet access, and a lot of time on my hands (it's quiet).
53. GarageOffice
To comfirm that it was indeed near death, the great vessel broke through into normal space with lingering slowness.
54. TheMadLibrarian
Is anyone else finding Captcha particularly argumentative today, in that copy and paste is often truncating the reply?
55. TheMadLibrarian
GarageOffice: Rendezvous with Rama, by Clarke. I just ran across a whole webpage of good SF first lines!
56. Xenny

:A Deepness in the Sky: Vinge

"...caused the priests of Ptolemy V to inscribe the slab in hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek."
58. JohnnyMac
barsil @50, "Johanthan Strange & Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke.

"Brother Francis Gerard of Utah might never have discovered the blessed documents, had it not been for the pilgrim with girded loins who appeared during that young novice's Lenten fast in the desert."
Brian R
59. Mayhem
And Zeldin spoke to Imarko his bride, saying: "Even behind you lies Her shadow, for the children of day are born of night. Not all my love for you can dispel that shadow; only your love for me can cleanse it away."
60. Lektu
JohnnyMac @58: "A Canticle for Leibowitz".
61. JohnnyMac
Garage Office @53, "The Many Colored Land" by Julian May.

"The year in which Captain Dragonet, a bluff and good-hearted sea-rover with a harmless (one would think) fancy for young ladies with round bosoms, was murdered by a mercenary named George something-or-other, hired by the Municipality of Joppa (a bargain, if that is what it was, which the Municipality would soon regret and rue), was or should have been famous for another event."
Samuel Walker
62. lambada
Norma ran. Picked up her skirts and ran as she had never run in her life. Ran as though the hounds of hell were at her heels.

(Three sentences as two words is just mean and probably very generic).
63. JohnnyMac
Lektu @60, correct and in only 8 minutes! I tip my hat to you.
Zack Weinberg
64. zwol
Wow, I wasn't expecting people to get mine immediately this time around. Here are a couple more:

The first time he met Billy Bly, Frederick thought he must be dreaming.

It was love at first sight.

The huge command deck was as calm, as peacefully dim, as ever.

In the darkness of the deep, Thom Vargas slept.
Brian R
65. Mayhem
The Huge Command Deck is from Mutineer's Moon, David Weber.
Love at first sight is Catch 22, Joseph Heller.
66. OtterB
I don't think anyone answered TheMadLibrarian @44. That's Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," isn't it?

The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault.
67. TheMadLibrarian
Magic Below Stairs, by Stervermer
Empire from the Ashes, by Weber.
Undersea, by Morrison

Unfortunately, "It was love at first sight." is too generic to immediately pop for me. Can you throw out a second line?
Brian R
68. Mayhem
And since my last one is somewhat obscure, here's two easier ones.

It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton.

Austar IV is the fourth planet of a seven-planet rim system in the Erato Galaxy

And a third maybe less well known

Cadillac sat on the ground near Mr Snow and listened with half-closed eyes as the white-haired, bearded old man told the naked clan-children the story of the War of a Thousand Suns.
Girish Duvvuri
69. Girish112
@66: Dresden Files White Night - Jim Butcher?

EDIT: Blood Rites, not White Night.
70. TheMadLibrarian
Hayden Griffin was plucking a fish when the gravity bell rang.
71. GarageOffice
@Mayhem #68 That's from Coud Warrior, Amtrak Wars #1

Here's one of my favorites...."When the office door opened suddenly I knew the game was up."
72. TheMadLibrarian
"It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton." came from the Illuminatus Trilogy, by Wilson.
"Cadillac sat on the ground near Mr Snow and listened with half-closed eyes as the white-haired, bearded old man told the naked clan-children the story of the War of a Thousand Suns." is from the Amtrak Wars, by Tilley.
Austar IV is the fourth planet of a seven-planet rim system in the Erato Galaxy is from Dragon's Blood, by Yolen.
Brian R
73. Mayhem
Ha. The Stainless Steel Rat, Harry Harrison.
I'd just looked that one up to post it!

71 & 72
Right on all counts
Brian R
74. Mayhem
Hmm, time to get tougher. Two fantasy, two sf.

She sat by the creek, half-hidden in lush grasses.

Look where you will, bold adventurer, for as far as the eye can see, there is nothing.

First came the routine request for a Breach of Privacy permit.

We will begin on the dead and almost invisible planet called Sanctum.
Tim May
75. ngogam
pCiaran @ 5-6: Correct! (Well, actually it's Alastor 993, but it's not like I'd get it that close without the book in front of me...)

I thought I'd include a couple of mine left unanswered last time (and well done JohnnyMac, who got the third from the same post after I'd stopped paying attention to the old thread):

a) The problem, as I see it, is an information gap. The People know far more about their enemy than the enemy knows about them.

b) Ani was gathering tender bibbi shoots when a patch of white on the distant forest floor caught her eye.
76. yannhuei
"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and tell you he's the one."
77. cjhuitt
@76: Ender's Game, unless I'm mistaken. (Or The Matrix, but not really, and I don't think that counts anyway. It's just thematically similar.0

This isn't from a novel, I'll admit, but it's too good to leave out:

I was busy translating one of my Madrigals Macabre into Martian on the morning I was found acceptable.
78. AnotherLibrarian
1) "Swift death awaits the first cow that leads a revolt against milking," mused Professor Peder Bjornsen.

2) Mankind consisted of 128 people.
79. JohnnyMac
cjhuitt @77, "A Roses for Ecclesiates" by Roger Zelazny.

"The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm." (In fairness, I am bending the rules a bit here as this is the first sentence of the first chapter, skipping the prologue.)

Still nothing on mine @61?
80. Thomrit
They stood together at the parapet, their arms about each other's waists, her head against his cheek.
Gerd K
81. Kah-thurak
@79 Johnny Mac
Something wicked this way comes by Bradbury

"It was a nice day."
82. tkThompson
Kah-thurak @81: Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

a). On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was the Organon, Repetition and Astrology.

That one should be pretty easy, so here's two more:

b).Until the squall struck, Lake Leman was so still that the two men talking in the bow of the open sailboat could safely set their wine glasses on the thwarts.

c). A horse, he came to understand, was missing. Until it was found nothing could proceed.
Nathan Love
83. n8love
Let me tell you of the worlds I've left behind.
84. JohnnyMac
Kah-thurak @81, you got it!

tkThompson @82, a) "The Sword and the Stone" by T. H. White.
D. Bell
85. SchuylerH
@Thomrit: Space Viking (H. Beam Piper)

@tkThompson: b) is The Stress of Her Regard (Tim Powers)

Dear Newcomer,

Welcome to the Epsilon Eridani System.
D. Bell
86. SchuylerH
@tkThompson: c) The Last Light of the Sun (Guy Gavriel Kay)
88. JohnnyMac
ngogam @75, thank you for reminding me about that old thread. I had quite forget it (it has been almost two years after all). Rereading it, I was interested to see how many first lines that appeared there have been recycled here (including at least one by me).

Here are a few more tossed into the pot:

A) "His first meeting with her was quite by accident."

B) "A burning woman stalks along the streets."

C) "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."
Brian R
89. Mayhem
@85 Chasm City, Alistair Reynolds

C is the Call of Cthulthu, HP Lovecraft
Brian R
90. Mayhem
I swear half the fun of this game is looking for lines that don't come up quickly in Google. Involves a lot of trawling through the dusty piles in my room :)
Three kids classics.

There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always

He had been walking the dirty streets since twilight first began to gather.

A small lizard perched on a brown stone
Tim May
91. ngogam
AnotherLibrarian @ 78-2: _Of Men and Monsters_ by William Tenn.

When Yalda was almost three years old, she was entrusted with the task of bearing her grandfather into the forest to convalesce.
D. Bell
92. SchuylerH
@JohnnyMac: I seem to think A might be A Fine and Private Place (Beagle). Am I right? B is definitely Metropolitan (Walter Jon Williams).
D. Bell
93. SchuylerH
@Mayhem: The Phantom Tollbooth, Galactic Warlord, A Spell for Chameleon.
D. Bell
94. SchuylerH
@ngogam: Orthogonal: The Clockwork Rocket (Greg Egan)
D. Bell
95. SchuylerH
"The occupants of each floor of the hotel must as usual during the games form their own protective groups..."
D. Bell
96. SchuylerH
@61: Peregrine: Primus (Avram Davidson)

The tall and dour non-com wore Imperial dress greens and carried his communications panel like a field marshall's baton.
Brian R
97. Mayhem
That one is The Warrior's Apprentice, LMB.

Ok, since you got my last so quick, here's some proper challenges for you. Four evil short lines. All books from well known series.

Damn mist.

It was raining.

The storm had broken.

I can’t believe we’re doing this.
jeff hendrix
98. templarsteel
Two glass panes with dirt between and little tunnels from cell to cell: when I was a kid I had an ant colony.

Thunder rolled across the slopes of Karag Vlak,shaking the earth for miles.
D. Bell
99. SchuylerH
@97: I, with much foolhardiness, accept the challenge!

@98: The first one is The Star Pit (SRD).
D. Bell
100. SchuylerH
"The storm had broken": Magician (Feist)
D. Bell
101. SchuylerH
"Damn mist": Before They Are Hanged (Abercrombie)
D. Bell
102. SchuylerH
"It was raining.": Might be Gallicenae (Poul & Karen Anderson, the King of Ys series)
103. JohnnyMac
Mayhem @89, you have it, 88-C is HPL's classic "The Call of Cthulthu".

Schuyler @92, on 88-A, sorry, no.
on 88-B Yes! Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams.

Schuyler @96, on 61, you have it! Peregrine Primus by Davidson. Since you got this one I am surprised you did not get 88-A.
D. Bell
104. SchuylerH
I can’t believe we’re doing this. I'm out of ideas on this one. Does anyone else know?
Brian R
105. Mayhem
@ Schuyler
100 & 101 are correct. 102 is not.
D. Bell
106. SchuylerH
@JohnnyMac: The Phoenix and the Mirror?
D. Bell
107. SchuylerH
@Mayhem: Might I ask whether these are all secondary world fantasy series?
Jonathan Levy
108. JonathanLevy
Easy to find in google, but impossible to forget if you've read the novel:

In what felt to him like the first cold morning of the world, he groped for fire.
D. Bell
109. SchuylerH
@JonathanLevy: The First Book of Swords (Saberhagan). I haven't read that one.
Jonathan Levy
110. JonathanLevy
109. SchuylerH

Quite right! I haven't read it in 15 years or so, but I still remember the first line. It's also the last line of the third book, IIRC.

Here's another one, from a more memorable series. The first line does not even hint at the magnetic power of the first chapter.

It was starting to end, after what seemed most of eternity to me.
Brian R
111. Mayhem
Yep, all four are typical fantasy.
The ones you are missing are an 80s series, and a 90s series.

As for my four @74,
One is classic 60s SF, the other three are from the 80s, two well known and one not so much.
D. Bell
112. SchuylerH
@JonathanLevy: Nine Princes in Amber?

@Mayhem: With regards @74, Shapechangers (Jennifer Roberson), The Will of the Wanderer (Weis & Hickman), The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton (Larry Niven), Master of Paxwax (Philip Mann).
113. SebastianG
An easy one:
"It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh"
114. JohnnyMac
SchuylerH @106, Yes, that is the strangely simple first line of Avram Davidson's opulent fantasy "The Phoenix and the Mirror".

Here is another one: "The House of O and Aa boomed to the deep voices of the priests."
Brian R
115. Mayhem
@98 "Karag Vlak" rings a bell, I'd say something to do with Warhammer, but I've never read any of the tie ins.

@113 Elric of Melnibone, Michael Moorcock. You should have a clue to one of mine :)


Therefore ... Three SF and two fantasy. All classics.

Ca m'amuse.


What's the hour?

This was a golden age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying… but nobody thought so.

Who was to blame?
116. JohnnyMac
Mayhem @115, "This was a golden age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying...but nobody thought so." "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester.

"I am a watchdog."
Brian R
117. Mayhem
JohnnyMac ... a couple of months late for that one ;)
118. JohnnyMac
Mayhem @117, ha! Though the calendar may say it is the dark of December, with the right book it can also be "A Night in the Lonesome October" by Roger Zelazny.
119. graftonio
Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair.
Tucker McKinnon
120. jazzfish
graftonio @119: argh tip of my brain... A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick.

In the second century C.E., Loukianos of Samosta wrote "Everyone's writing history now, and I don't want to be left out of the future."
Tucker McKinnon
121. jazzfish
Mm, and two undeservedly obscure ones from last time:

The whale, the traitor; the note she left me and the run-in with the Post police; and how I felt about her and what she turned out to be-- all this you know.

He is met at a crossroads on a windy night, the moon in tatters and the mist unclothing stars, the way from Ask to Owlerdale: a man in black, white-headed, with a three-string fiddle in his pack.
D. Bell
122. SchuylerH
@jazzfish: @121 is The Fortunate Fall (Raphael Carter) and Cloud & Ashes (Greer Gilman).

@98: Karak seems to preceed Warhammer dwarf holds ... maybe Dragonslayer?

@115: I'm not really a fantasy reader, so I'll probably have to concede on "It was raining" and "I can't believe we're doing this".

"Explosion!" is The Demolished Man (Bester), "What's the hour?" might be "The Weird of the White Wolf", "Who was to blame?" opens Arthur C. Clarke's "Rescue Party", the first story in Reach for Tomorrow. Ca m'amuse is a bit more difficult. Was the book orignally published in French or English?
D. Bell
123. SchuylerH
@115: Wait, is it E. R. Eddison's A Fish Dinner in Memison?
124. slmyrs
Angels were falling all over the place.
Brian R
125. Mayhem
@122 Heh. nice work.
What's the Hour was from the Stealer of Souls, took a fair bit of hunting through my old Orion editions to find a one liner.
The Clarke was indeed Rescue party, pulled from The Sentinel.

Dead right on the other two, hoped the French might hold you off a bit longer.

As clues for the two fantasy.

It was raining:
A rather unhappy damp knight rides back into town for an appointment with his queen.

I can't believe we're doing this:
It's the prologue, where monsters from mankinds nightmares are unleashed upon a new colony.

I'd give the next line but it is a dead giveaway in each case.
Jonathan Levy
126. JonathanLevy

Right again! Did you look them up or did you remember them off the top of your head?
Brian R
127. Mayhem
And 124 is Cryoburn, LMB, because I literally just opened that by mistake on my kobo while looking for something else.
D. Bell
128. SchuylerH
@125: With regards Elric, we're both right. Both your edition of The Stealer of Souls and my edition of The Weird of the White Wolf start with the same story, "The Dreaming City." Is the Nineties' series the Wheel of Time and the Eighties' series the Belgariad?

@126: I haven't read Nine Princes in Amber but who hasn't heard that line?
Brian R
129. Mayhem
Not the Belgariad, but you're on the right track.

The other is much less trendy series from Daw.
D. Bell
130. SchuylerH
@129: The Diamond Throne for "It was raining"? Less trendy...It's not that awful John Norman thing is it?
131. slmyrs
In the year 2037 a robotic interstellar probe, the Cristobal Colon, driven by lightsail, disappeared enroute to Alpha Centauri.
133. slmyrs
close, right author
D. Bell
134. SchuylerH
@133: The Amazon Legion? I'm just guessing now.
Brian R
135. Mayhem
Diamond Throne it is.

Nope, nothing to do with Norman. Oh god no. Although finding a first line from a Gor could be interesting to see who knows it :p

Another clue : There's an all powerful Church, protecting humanity from the things in the night.
136. dangold
It was starting to end, after what seemed like most of an eternity to me.

A mile below the lowest cloud, rock breaches water and the sea begins.
D. Bell
137. SchuylerH
@135: Black Sun Rising? No Gor first lines please.
Brian R
138. Mayhem
Close enough, its from When True Night Falls, book 2.

Well done.
D. Bell
139. SchuylerH
"Tell me, what is happiness?"

"It's a port city."

First he was aware of rain.
D. Bell
140. SchuylerH
@78: A is Sinister Barrier (Eric Frank Russell)
142. tkThompson
@84, @85, @86: yes, yes, and yes.

@141: The Magician, by Lev Grossman

New one:

The ship drove toward its hellish perihelion.
143. HelenS
My father had a face that could stop a clock.

But there was more to it than that.

Long ago, when great King Arthur ruled in Britain, a weary traveller in humble garments came at nightfall to the borders of a forest, not far from the mountains of Wales.
Alan Courchene
144. Majicou
@142: Correct.

The palace still shook occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what happened.

Might be a gimme, but I wanted to post it.
145. BlueJay
My father had a face that could stop a clock. - The Eyre Affair

It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.
D. Bell
146. SchuylerH
@142: Nexus: Ascension (Boyczuk)

@144: The Eye of the World (Jordan)

@145: The Name of the Wind (Rothfuss)
147. dangold
@139 (a) Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons
D. Bell
148. SchuylerH
@147: Correct. Have you got any ideas about the others?
Brian R
149. Mayhem
Nine princes in Amber. Again :p
The Scar, China Mieville

Babel 17- Samuel R Delaney
The Plague of Masters - Poul Anderson

But there was more to it than that. - is that Terry Pratchett's Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents?

The last is The History of Sir Thomas Thumb, by Charlotte Mary Yonge. I finally recognised the flow of the opening but boy that's an obscure version of the story!

Still no idea on Jazzfish @120
D. Bell
150. SchuylerH
@149: Correct. With regards @120, I'm pretty sure there's a couple of typos (the individual quoted is Lucian of Samosata for example). @143, I think Maurice begins with "Rats!"
Tucker McKinnon
151. jazzfish
Mayhem @ 149: eh, maybe I cheated using the prologue (though it isn't called that). (Hm, and as noted I also introduced a couple of typos; it's "left out of the furore," not "future," and "Loukianos of Samosata," not Samosta. Or samosa. Mmm, lunch. What was I talking about?)

(Edit: also, putting things in brackets makes them show up only irregularly. Changed to parens now.)

Anyway, the actual line from Chapter 1, checked twice for typos and found acceptable:

The road the Romans made traversed North Wales a little way inland, between the weather off the Irish Sea and the mountains of Gwynedd and Powys; past the copper and the lead that the travel-hungry Empire craved.
D. Bell
152. SchuylerH
@151: The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford. Your first line, I now see, is from Ford's "A Historical Note" at the beginning (though why he uses Loukianos is quite beyond me).
Tucker McKinnon
153. jazzfish
SchuylerH @ 152: indeed. Although I'm reasonably sure that's a typo in the hardback edition, and it's supposed to be "Ahistorical Note" like it is in the hideous paperbacks.

And, because that was his name? Ford notes the more common name in the second line. ("Loukianos, also known as Lucian the Scoffer, then produced a work of fantasy known as the True History.")
Tucker McKinnon
155. jazzfish
Either of the first two pictured in this comment.

(The second is notable for its fidelity to the book, and its sheer wrongness in spite of that.)

And to keep things going:
There was snow at the end of the world, and Kasimir was dying in it.
156. HelenS
Mayhem@149 -- well done, you're right on both of mine. Though I should perhaps have started with the chapter heading on the Pratchett.
D. Bell
157. SchuylerH
@155: All the Windwracked Stars (Elizabeth Bear). It's written as A Historical Note in the Fantasy Masterworks edition as well, though Ahistorical Note makes much more sense in retrospect.
D. Bell
158. SchuylerH
My first thought is that I don't remember dying. As this is far too easy by itself, I also want the name of the single-author collection it opens.

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