I am trying to track down a story from the late 80s that was set in Pleasure Island from Pinocchio . It was in a magazine for fantasy that is probably defunct. It is set in more modern time and the island has more theme park type attractions.

The story involves a family of 3 golem like brothers who work at the park. It never says exactly what they are,but they seem to be made out of soil, they refer to themselves and their kind with only male pronouns and they reproduce by biting off their own thumbs and tongue. They repeated an aphorism of their kind that went something like " a right thumb for a smart son, a left thumb for a wise son, and a tongue for a sly son"

The brothers work various jobs around the island, the narrator is a food vendor who serves really vile sounding things like cotton candy covered in chocolate and bubble gum ( of course I could totally see kids enjoying something like that).

The brothers are always happy when a kid becomes a donkey, because that means they reached peak pleasure. Any idea what story this is?

2 Answers 2


Return to Pleasure Island by Cory Doctorow.

This is the story of the ogres who run the concession stands on Pleasure Island, where Pinnocchio's friend Lampwick turned into a donkey.

The allusion to thumbs and tongues is:

Bill was already home, napping in the pile of blankets that all three brothers shared in the back room of the cottage. Joe wasn't home yet, even though his shift finished earlier than theirs. He never came straight home; instead, he wandered backstage, watching the midway through the peepholes. Joe's Lead had spoken to George about it, and George had spoken to Joe, but you couldn't tell Joe anything. George thought of how proud his father had been, having three sons ... three! George, the son of his strong right thumb, and Bill, the son of his clever left thumb, and Joe. Joe, the son of his tongue, an old man's folly, that left him wordless for the remainder of his days. He hadn't needed words, though: his cracked and rheumy eyes had shone with pride every time they lit on Joe, and the boy could do no wrong by him.


This is probably "Return to Pleasure Island" (2000) by Cory Doctorow. It was originally published in Realms of Fantasy, August 2000.

The story begins by introducing us to George, a golem worker at Pleasure Island.

George twiddled his thumbs in his booth and watched how the brown, clayey knuckles danced overtop one another. Not as supple as they had once been, his thumbs—no longer the texture of wet clay on a potter's wheel; more like clay after it had been worked to exhausted crackling and brittleness. He reached into the swirling vortex of the cotton-candy machine with his strong right hand and caught the stainless-steel sweep-arm. The engines whined and he felt them strain against his strong right arm, like a live thing struggling to escape a trap. Still strong, he thought, still strong, and he released the sweep-arm to go back to spinning sugar into floss.

You can read the story at the Internet Archive.

  • That is it, thanks so much Commented Mar 6 at 9:50

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