Definitely not a story on reddit (or likely anywhere else on the internet - think "dead tree edition" books), but I remember hearing of a fantasy story a long time ago where one of the heroes has the special power of knowing that he is the hero of a story. Therefore, whatever plan he comes up with, no matter how outlandish, ends up working out somehow anyway.

Unfortunately, the friend who told me about it never could remember the title of the story. (This was back in the mid-90s that he told me about it, but for all I know, he read it in the late-80s.)

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    Welcome to the site. Is this is a short story or a book? Also, if you've never read it, how will you know for sure if anyone IDs the correct story? May 26, 2021 at 22:44
  • Sounds like something Harry Harrison would have written
    – Moriarty
    May 26, 2021 at 23:07
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    Sounds similar to "Plot Armour", wherein the heroes know they'll survive because they're the heroes of a story. But that story is just published online and quite recently, so I'm not posting it as an answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 27, 2021 at 7:15
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    I hate to say this but I'm afraid the question is too broad, and what we're getting in the way of "answers" is a list of the 10,000 stories in which the hero knows that he's the hero of a story.
    – user14111
    May 28, 2021 at 10:36

5 Answers 5


Gene Wolfe wrote a story like this, "The Last Thrilling Wonder Story" (Asimov's, June 1982). The story starts with the author (Wolfe) briefing the hero of the story (Brick Bronson) on what's going to happen. Things immediately start to go awry, as Brick objects to his description, questions why he's in love with Carol Crane (who he doesn't even know) and insist on going to the church to light a candle. (He's apparently familiar with Chekhov's Gun.)

"And, sir, if it's all right with you. I'd like to drop by St. Michael's and light a candle first. After all, if there's going to be gunfights and all that—"

"How the hell do you know about gunfights?"

"I saw the deer rifle in the back of my pickup, sir. And going to Rigel. Rigel's an awful way away, sir. Hundreds of light-years, maybe thousands—"

"Catholics don't light candles anymore, Brick."

"I do, sir. I'm Irish, and my mother-"

"For Pete's sake! Bronson's not an Irish name."

"What kind is it, sir?"

"It's a pulp name. Now get going."

You can read the entire story at the Internet Archive.


Author! Author! by Isaac Asimov (1943)?

My recollection of the story (aided slightly by Wikipedia) is that the hero of a series of books (Reginald de Meister) comes to life when the author (Graham Dorn) is cornered by a fan and falsely claims that de Meister is a real person. The author learns that there are major disadvantages to having his character come to life exactly as described, for example, because it was written in the books that "Reginald was irresistible to all women", Dorn's fiancee immediately dumps Dorn for de Meister when they meet. De Meister is fully aware of his status as Dorn's creation and takes advantage of his "written" attributes - which also include "undefeatable in hand to hand combat" etc.

Dorn tries to write new material to neutralise or kill de Meister, but is unable to write new material. The loophole Dorn finally takes advantage of is to revise part of the next novel in the series which has been written but not yet proofread or published, then hand the script to a fan who will believe it unquestioningly. This brings into being a fiery woman that de Meister is in a relationship with (who had died in the pre-revision version), who is sufficiently intimidating that de Meister vanishes back into the realm of books.

  • The theme of writing a story as it unfolds occurs quite frequently, e.g. in Inkheart, I think; in variations even in the movie Adaptation and John Scalzi's novel Redshirts. The Fates and Norns weave threads to tell the story of lives; and that again reminds me of Stephenson's entertaining Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. May 27, 2021 at 10:45
  • John Ringo wrote the series Voyage of the Space Bubble and it was (I think) in the third book "claws that catch" that this happened to the protagonist. In like an anime universe
    – Danny Mc G
    May 27, 2021 at 11:33

Possibly The Cineverse Cycle series by Craig Shaw Gardner?

  • Slaves of the Volcano God (1989)
  • Bride of the Slime Monster (1990)
  • Revenge of the Fluffy Bunnies (1990)

Roger Gordon's life was dull until a Captain Crusader Decoder Ring unlocked a door to the world of B-movies. Now his life is filled with adventure as he frolics through the silver screen's weirdest westerns, thrillers and romances.

Roger finds himself within a universe filled with people, situations, and tropes from B-movies. For example, he picks up a sidekick, who explains the situation about sidekicks:

But Louie wasn’t convinced. “It’s not that simple. We may be good guys, but we may still just be sidekicks, too. And sometimes sidekicks get killed.”

“Killed?” Roger replied with some disappointment.

“Yeah, it’s called pathos. It helps move the plot along.”

Roger sighed. “And anything that moves the plot along is Movie Magic?”

Louie nodded in approval. “You’re learning fast. Besides, you can never tell when the bad guys will run out of bullets. That is, until it happens.”

For another example, Roger finds himself in a setting from a foreign "art" film, where very little seems to make sense, and he can actually see English subtitles for the incomprehensible language the other people are speaking. He uses these subtitles to try to form a sentence in the unknown language, and gets it pretty hilariously wrong:

Silently he formed the question in English: “I must see Captain Crusader. Where is he?” It was simple enough. Surely, even though the words might not be in the right order, the sense of his question should get through. He coughed rather loudly. Both Piers and Katrina turned to look at him. Roger spoke quickly:

“Storg gnurden Captain Crusader. Minsky smeltzny valarie?”

Both Piers and Katrina stared at him, open-mouthed.

This was not quite the reaction Roger had been hoping for. His eyes slid down to the subtitle before him:


Piers turned to Katrina. Roger was too upset to listen to what the haggard man was saying. He couldn’t help himself; though. He had to read the subtitle.


Katrina’s reply was angry. Once again, Roger didn’t really listen, but only read:


By the third book, Roger comes to accept that he is, in fact, Captain Crusader in this universe, and therefore the hero.

In my opinion this series is thoroughly hilarious.


My Hero (Tom Holt 1996)

Writing novels? Piece of cake, surely ... or so Jane thinks. Until hers start writing back. At which point, she really should stop. Better still, change her name and flee the country. The one thing she should not do is go into the book herself. After all, that's what heroes are for. Unfortunatly, the world of fiction is a far more complicated place than she ever imagined. And she's about to land her hero right in it.

The general them of the story is around the fragility of the 4th wall and people not just talking through it but moving through it as well. All the heroes were aware of their role, though one of them should have been a villain. I vaguely remember them trying some fairly ridiculous stuff because the hero couldn't fail, but if you broke genre interesting things happened.


Not quite a match, but if you only heard some second hand accounts, it could possibly be The Wheel of Time cycle, by Robert Jordan, starting with The Eye of the World (1990).

In the books there are Ta'Veren, which means "people that shape history", but could be interpreted as "main characters". The Ta'Veren status has some in-world effects, and several characters have abilities to detect the Ta'Veren, so the main characters learn early on to be such.

There's no character that can make outlandish plans work, but one has "ridiculously lucky" as a power, it could give the impression that crazy luck-based plans are better (or even guaranteed success) for him.

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