I'm looking for a short story I think I've read all of once, it involves a fortune cookie with a day of the week and nothing else and an alien sent to disrupt the defenders of Earth who feels that the best approach is a demoralisation campaign involving such cookies and prematurely wilting heads of lettuce. The human protagonist takes pains to find out where the fortune cookie came from and after a James Bond style villain monologue goes to the psych ward secure in the knowledge that while no-one believes him the alien in question is never going to get anywhere and mankind is safe.

  • This must be the alien counterpart of "Russia disrupts our democracy via tweets and memes" meme so prevalent nowadays. Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


Harlan Ellison's "Never Send to Know for Whom the Lettuce Wilts" (ISFDB) (Internet Archive) found by searching for short story alien wilts lettuce.

... But he follows them with Never Send To Know For Whom The Lettuce Wilts, which is the most Ellison-y tale of the lot — goofy, but prescient, cruel and smart, having to do with a curious man, a fortune cookie, and an alien trying to conquer the world through small, demoralizing acts (like wilting lettuce, making nails bend, and inventing the English language). The funniest bit? The alien (small, gnomish and furious) wears a huge yellow button pinned to its breast that reads CONQUEROR. An award it gave to itself.

  • Ah so that's why I couldn't find it, I was looking for it in anthologies I have not The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction which I read only very sporadically for a couple of weeks one year. Also I was looking for the cookie not the lettuce.
    – Ash
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:10
  • 1
    You never know what keywords are going to do the trick. :-D
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:12

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