A Chance to Show Off: the first line game

Back in October of 1994, my old hometown of rec.arts.sf.written got consumed with enthusiasm for a fairly silly but rather fun game. Google Groups isn’t being helpful at telling me who started it, but thank you whoever you are.

Here’s another chance to play, and a dozen lines to start you off:

Mae lived in the last village in the world to go online.

All of us were dumfounded when Zamatryna-Harani insisted on the old customs for her wedding.

Imagine all the variety of the human species confined to a single world, a world sown with the petrified bones of human ancestors, a planet dotted with the ruins of ten thousand years of forgotten human civilizations—a planet on which, at the time human beings first flew in space, humans still hunted a surplus of animals, gathered wild plants, farmed with ancient methods, spun natural yarns and cooked over wood fires.

“I heard a noise,” Mrs Davenport said, “and then I was moving through this tunnel.”

The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust.

It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.

The manhunt extended across more than one hundred light years and eight centuries.

Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.

In their ruddy jackets of leather that reached to their knees the men of Erl appeared before their lord, the stately white-haired man in his long red room.

Dear Charles, Please don’t think I’m running away.

“Of course,” they told him in all honesty, “you will be a slave.”

If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he owns the place, he’s a spaceman.


1. You identify as many of the lines as you can, and for every line you identify, you get to post a different first line of a fantasy or SF novel of your choice for other people to identify.

2. If someone has incorrectly identified a line, you can correct their misidentification and post a line, but their line can also still be identified by others.

3. Do not identify lines that have already been identified.

4. If your line has not been guessed in a reasonable period of time—twenty-four hours, say—you can identify it yourself and post another.

To make it easiest, posts should be of the format:

Paul Durham opened his eyes, blinking at the rooms unexpected brightness, then lazily reached out to place one hand in a patch of sunlight at the edge of the bed.
Permutation City, Greg Egan

This is the worst story I know about hocuses.

Well, either that or discussion of the books. Discussion is always good.


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