I found a box of books in the attic of a new house at age 12, the summer of 1963. It contained 2 sf anthologies. One was Damon Knight stories.

The other one was a hard bound collection of multiple stories by multiple authors with many different themes. The (not Damon Knight) story I recently remembered involved a pathetic guy (with blond roots) who has been trying to seduce a beautiful non-stereotypical blond. She demonstrates, in the last paragraph, a "trick" that causes a fire poker to suddenly sag.

I didn't get at age 12, but when something reminded me of the scene a while back I did and started laughing out loud.

It probably would have been funniest when I was a high school sophomore, but I would like to see if I can locate the story and maybe even the anthology.

Ah, retirement. I think the was yellow.

  • 4
    "I think the was yellow." The what was yellow? Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 1:04
  • 1
    I'm guessing cover.
    – Paul
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 1:22
  • 2
    As soon as I read this, I realized that I had read this at some point and didn't remember the answer either. Thanks for asking. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 2:10
  • duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/20335/…
    – Otis
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


That's "A Trick or Two", a short story by John Novotny; first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1957, available at the Internet Archive. The ending:

Jesse walked wonderingly to the fireplace, picked up the poker, and held it out. Laura raised a long slender forefinger and pointed at the brass tool; and in Jesse's hand the poker became pliable, soft, and wilted like wax before a flame. He stared at it in horror.

"Jesse," Laura said, "I discovered my trick long ago."

The anthology was probably A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Robert P. Mills, ed.); maybe the contents or cover will ring a bell.

The Damon Knight collection, if it was published before 1963, was probably his 1961 collection Far Out; his second collection, In Deep, published in May of 1963; seems less likely to be found in a box in an attic in the summer of 1963.

  • i probably would have asked this at some point. Good to know. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 2:11
  • Fastest gun in the west!
    – user31178
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 2:23

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