I am looking for a sci-fi story that I read in the 80's. It was a story about the future and I am sorry but the only vivid detail I remember was that parents had actually gone to a store to purchase a gift (a bicycle I believe), and the person at the store thought it was strange to have people actually come to the store, but let them in to shop.

  • 5
    Could you explain why this is sci-fi/fantasy?
    – Valorum
    Feb 15, 2014 at 13:55
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    It's perfectly clear what is being asked... this is a story identification. Do not VTC just because you don't like the question.
    – John O
    Feb 16, 2014 at 23:07
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    It seems to be set in a future where face-to-face commerce is largely a thing of the past. Sounds like science fiction to me. At least it was in the 80's...
    – Joe L.
    Dec 24, 2014 at 4:01
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    This sounds vaguely familiar to me... but the details escape me entirely. It being a story in the future, the process of putting together the bike was all over the phone and then it was automatically shipped out.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 24, 2014 at 5:02
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    @Richard I remember the boy was attending school through an interactive TV and nobody went out to shop, everything was done through catalogs. I used the story as an analogy on a tech briefing I was giving.
    – user64805
    Apr 18, 2016 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


Could it be "Or All The Seas With Oysters" by Avram Davidson? It's set in a bicycle shop and the years (1985) match pretty well.

The description on wikipedia seems to line up nicely;

"Struck by the fact that there are never enough pins and always too many coat-hangers, a bicycle shop owner begins to speculate on the possible parallels between natural and man-made objects."

Or All The Seas With Oysters

Avram Davidson's Hugo-winning story "Or All the Seas with Oysters" reviewed by Das Übernerd:

There isn't a lot of narrative to "Or All the Seas with Oysters". Two bicycle repairmen notice that safety pins always vanish and reappear while you end up with a closet full of unused clothes hangers. One of them begins to ascribe a possible life cycle to these bits of found metal and sees something sinister behind it.

The story is very light-hearted but given the direction things take I could have easily seen this tale being done by H.P. Lovecraft (it's just a matter of time until there are enough clothes hangers to supplant humanity; they are smaller but they breed faster and how many times do you let one of them get close to you without thinking about it). It has that same kind of creeping dread as it shifts tone. It elevates what could have been a simple comedic piece to something more and I have to recommend it.

  • Quote is from wikipedia. I'm not sure where they got it from. I've added a link
    – Valorum
    Feb 15, 2014 at 22:06
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    @user14111 - It's set in a bicycle shop, the owner is surprised when people come in...
    – Valorum
    Feb 15, 2014 at 22:34
  • I might be mis-remembering. If OP says it's not the story, I'll delete
    – Valorum
    Feb 16, 2014 at 9:49
  • @user14111 - If I recall correctly (which I'm increasingly uncertain about), it was simply that they didn't get many customers.
    – Valorum
    Feb 16, 2014 at 10:08
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    No, it's not Or All the Seas with Oysters. I remember reading the same story in 2nd grade, which would have been 1982. In addition, the people at the bike store were surprised because people shopped using a computer, not by coming in to a store. Going in to the store was considered weird and inefficient, but the parents thought it was fun (if weird) and thought they'd do it again if they could. I'm on the hunt for the same story - if I find it, I'll post it here.
    – user38647
    Dec 24, 2014 at 1:08

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