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Does anyone know the name of a story where a man finds a genie that grants three wishes, but those wishes must be something that he can visualise. So when he tries to wish for a car and money, he gets a car that doesn't work and a pile of obviously fake notes.

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    I can't seem to find it, but the idea was that the wishes were granted only as far as what the character (a man?) could comprehend. And when he wished for a beautiful wife, what he got was effectively beautiful, but just meat. Since he didn't have a single clue as to how the human body works, it was nothing more than that.
    – Clockwork
    Apr 19, 2023 at 12:18
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    @Clockwork - you may have been thinking of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/241802/… - fits your description but no genie afaik.
    – Basya
    Apr 19, 2023 at 13:15
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    No, I'm pretty sure my one involved a genie. Apr 19, 2023 at 14:11
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    Do you remember where or when approximately you stumbled upon that story (e.g. in a book, online, three years ago, etc.)? That might narrow it down a bit.
    – Clockwork
    Apr 20, 2023 at 7:19
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    I read about the stroy in the book, a summary was given as an example of something. Apr 20, 2023 at 10:19

1 Answer 1

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I think this is probably Drog by John Rackham. According to the ISFDB it has never been officially anthologised, though it has shown up in a few anthologies of dubious provenance and I read it in one of these.

The demon is summoned when the protagonist George Whipple is painting and accidentally paints a picture that summons the demon Drog. Drog grants Geoge three wishes, and as you describe, George has to visualise the wish in his mind. Drog tells him:

"Take it easy, now!" Drog warned, again. "I can get it from your thoughts. Just you picture it, in your mind."

If this is the right story then you have misremembered the first wish as George wishes for:

"I want this table laid for a tremendous meal," he mumbled. "Nothing exotic, just good food, and lots of it. Soup—consomme, I think—and Dover Sole—and roast duck, and green peas—" his tongue failed, entirely, but the vision was starkly vivid in his mind.

He visualised stacks of canned and potted foods, jams, spreads, cheeses, wines of many kinds, biscuits sweets—until his mouth watered so much that he was choking.

"Any special touches?"

"No—yes! Music—sweet music playing while I eat—and a pretty girl to sit there, at the other end of the table, for company. Is that all right?"

However he doesn't visualise the girl and Drog creates a girl who is:

She, too, stood up, rigid with terror, her pointed ears stiff, her blue hair standing on end, tilted yellow cat’s eyes dilated with dread. She was tall, and slim, and—he thought—delightfully developed. Her dress, such as it was, consisted of strings of glittering stones, looped and pendant, catching the light vividly against her bright emerald skin.

The second wish is for a pile of money as you describe. For his second wish George wished for:

"I wish for a million pounds—"

"They all do it—!" Drog sneered into the vacant room, mockingly.

"Ah—but mine must be all in fivers. That’s two hundred thousand notes, genuine ones, exactly like this one. Not counterfeit, out-of-date, faulty in any way—but genuine. Not stolen. Nothing wrong with them in any way. They must be exactly like this one!" He stared, meaningly at Drog. "All right? NOW!"

But Drog creates the notes exactly matching the one George is visualising so they all have the same serial number:

"Now, now, George!" Drog put down the new pot of caviar, and frowned, "No need to be offensive, you know. I did exactly what you wanted—"

"Then what’s wrong with it?"

"It's a little matter of serial numbers, that’s all. You said 'exactly'!"

George’s jaw sagged for a moment, then he laughed, harshly, and kicked at the stacks of notes. "Fair enough," he admitted. "My own fault."

"It wouldn’t have done any good to warn you, either," Drog pointed out. "You couldn’t possibly visualise two hundred thousand different serial numbers."

For his final wish George wishes:

"I've got my wish all worked out. I'm going to visualise a universe as nearly like this one as possible, except that I'm a working success—and I'm happily married to, and in love with, Mildred, and she’s in love with me. Do you get all that?"

Drog grants the wish but:

In this universe George and Mildred are demons just like Drog.
George-Ogrege glanced at his bronze-green claw-hand, felt the silk-scaled curves snuggling close to him, lovingly—thought a moment, then shrugged, and grinned. It was all right!

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  • Sorry, but that’s not the correct one. Apr 20, 2023 at 5:20
  • @blademan9999 Oh well, it was worth a try. Thanks for letting us know this isn't the story. I'll keep looking! Apr 20, 2023 at 7:54

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