123 votes
Accepted

Short story read ~25 year ago where changing person's name prevents a war

This is probably Isaac Asimov's "Spell My Name with an "S"". The story concerns Marshall Zebatinsky, a Polish-American nuclear physicist. He is concerned that his career has ...
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  • 186k
61 votes

Sci-fi book I read years ago: sterile, lab-grown woman who smuggles things in a surgically-created “pouch” behind her navel

You are, in fact, thinking of Friday, by Robert A. Heinlein. Plot summary, from Wikipedia: The book's narrator is Friday Jones (often going under cover name Marjorie Baldwin and using both surnames ...
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  • 7,350
43 votes
Accepted

80's sci fi book, players picked random game elements to compete

This definitely reminds me of "The Game" in the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony. Quoting the series Wikipedia page about The Game: The main pastime of Proton inhabitants is The ...
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  • 79.5k
38 votes
Accepted

80s sci fi film with quest to replace lost female droid companion

This sounds like Cherry 2000 (1987), which in spite of the title takes place in 2017. Per Wikipedia: In the year 2017, the United States has fragmented into post-apocalyptic wastelands and limited ...
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  • 85.4k
38 votes

Book about a woman named Lessa

Look for Anne McCaffrey's "DragonRiders of Pern" Trilogy, "Dragon Drums Trilogy" and a few others (25 books are listed on Amazon). Lessa, in particular, shows up in about half of ...
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  • 381
37 votes
Accepted

Animation movie (80's-90's) with brain-sucking insects

Using the web page What is my Movie? and using the keywords animation+movie+insect+brains I scrolled down and look at something that could resemble that movie. This is Time Masters (1982) (French: Les ...
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  • 499
37 votes
Accepted

Man playing computer in chess. Uses a book-opening with known typo to win one, uses deep lookahead for #2

Might this be The 64-Square Madhouse by Fritz Leiber, first published in the May 1962 issue of If...? Here're a couple of relevant excerpts from the story. At the beginning of today's session Sandra ...
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36 votes
Accepted

Short story about future where living space is at a premium

"Billenium" by J. G. Ballard (ISFDB), published first in New Worlds Science Fiction (#112 November 1961): The story is set in the future ... where the world is becoming increasingly ...
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  • 186k
30 votes
Accepted

Late 1980's era film about thick white paste controlling people

This is The Stuff (1985) Several railroad workers discover a yogurt-like white substance bubbling out of the ground. These workers find it to be sweet and addictive. Later, the substance, marketed ...
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  • 609k
25 votes
Accepted

What movie is this? Alien living as humans

You're describing The People (1972) starring William Shatner and Kim Darby. It was based on Zenna Henderson's "Pottage", one of the stories found in her anthology "The Pilgrimage" ...
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  • 609k
25 votes

Book about training for and surviving on a deadly planet

Harry Harrison’s Deathworld trilogy. It features deadly plants and "forearm mounted automatic holsters". The planet was called Pyrrus...a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural ...
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  • 1,204
25 votes
Accepted

Story identification - Childrens' Sci-Fi circa 1980s

Douglas Hill - Huntsman, Warriors of the Wasteland, and Alien Citadel. The Alien race is the slavers; they capture the protagonist (Finn) family, and in the course of trying to rescue them ends up ...
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  • 13.4k
24 votes

Book with male protagonist struggling against giant (possibly alien) bugs

With appropriate credit to @Merc Measley for suggesting Starship Troopers first... Reading the OP's description of the cover (mostly yellow, man with laser gun, flying bugs), I immediately thought of ...
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  • 783
23 votes
Accepted

Scifi short story about a device that removes dust, is replicated for profit, and the original owners reverse the flow of dust removal?

"Dusty Zebra" by Clifford D. Simak. First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1954, which is available at the Internet Archive; reprinted a number of times. Any of these covers look ...
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  • 143k
23 votes
Accepted

Short story about a man getting the wrong phone number (with old-style exchange) and being 'disappeared'

Mugwump 4 by Robert Silverberg. The story starts: Al Miller was only trying to phone the Friendly Finance Corpo­ration to ask about an extension on his loan. It was a Murray Hill number, and he ...
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  • 74.8k
23 votes
Accepted

Early 2000s movie about robot that invades the world

Possibly Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) It's got giant robots with a diesel punk look to them, and the end has a rocket full of animals.
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  • 2,914
22 votes
Accepted

Story about a world of magic where science has been forbidden

It might be Forging the Darksword, the first book of the Darksword Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. In that world, magic is called "Life." The main character, Joram, is a baby ...
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22 votes
Accepted

Story with a 3-layered world

This looks like Triplet by Timothy Zahn. As described, there are three worlds (versions of the planet), ours, another level centered around hexes (the theory, towards the end, was that 6 was important ...
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  • 1,533
22 votes

Name of late 70’s or 80s B grade sci fi - aliens disguised as police

There are few details given on IMDB, but I think this could well be "Everything happens to me" (also known by the alternative title "Why did you pick on me"), a 1980 comedy film ...
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21 votes

Help me remember the name of an old animated sci-fi (apocalyptic) movie

This sounds like Wizards. On a post-apocalyptic Earth, a wizard and his faire folk comrades fight an evil wizard who's using technology in his bid for conquest. It has some pretty funny moments. ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Scholastic sci-fi anthology book containing a short story about a planet with crystal monsters

The first story you mentioned might be The Music of Minox by Howard Goldsmith. It was published within the More Science Fiction Tales: Crystal Creatures, Bird-Things & Other Weirdies anthology in ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Sci-fi Show with Tech Magic/Psychic Powers

Possibly Crusade, a Babylon 5 spin-off? One of the characters is a techno-mage named Galen, large ship, adventures, 1999.
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  • 8,015
19 votes
Accepted

ID Story: A robotic storyteller that is sentient

You are right, it is an Asimov story called "Someday". The computer is called the Bard and the kids dislike it because it's not as fancy as the sweet new Visual Bard. It ends with the Bard saying "...
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19 votes
Accepted

A TV series where the characters travel through portals to alternative dimensions

Maybe Parallax, which aired in Australia in 2004. It involves characters going through a portal to jump to various parallel universes. Wikipedia mentions a "hippie world", a "techno world", a "forest ...
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  • 133k
19 votes
Accepted

Story identification - Desert planet with "Makers"

The book is Hammerfall by C. J. Cherryh. The book was published in 2002 so it does match your time frame. I recall very little of the book, but luckily as straycat points out in a comment there is a ...
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  • 74.8k
19 votes
Accepted

Series of books/novellas, involving a depopulated Earth, mass infertility, a religious cult, time travel, and Amazon warriors

The Douglas Convolution series by Edward Llewellyn...? The series is comprised of three books, The Douglas Convolution (1979), The Bright Companion (1980), and Prelude to Chaos (1983). The Goodreads ...
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17 votes

Old radio show or book about a group of marooned men on a planet with only one creature which they eat and then cocoon and change into that creature

I'm pretty sure that the story in question is "Drop Dead" by Clifford Simak. The title comes from the fact that that's what the "critter" would. They just walk into the explorer ...
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  • 8,090
16 votes
Accepted

Short story with space cannibals and a missionary

"Name of the Snake" by R. A. Lafferty (ISFDB, Wikipedia, Great Science Fiction & Fantasy Works), first published in Worlds of Tomorrow, April 1964, available at the Internet Archive. A Christian ...
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  • 143k
16 votes

80's sci fi book, players picked random game elements to compete

I suspect you're thinking of Split Infinity, first book of the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony. The main pastime of Proton inhabitants is The Game. When two persons want to play a round, ...
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  • 186k

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