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Can You Name This Story? (Part 13)

Another reader writes in with a story description looking for a title.

Do any of our readers out there know the title of this story?

The story line was about a man who lost his son to freeway violence, in a future where people armored their cars into rolling weapons, and took license plates as trophys. He’s out for revenge and working on the Bonneville-which may have had a female nickname.

I am sure I read it sometime between 1980 and 1985.

– Renee C.

Can you name this story?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

13 Comments on Can You Name This Story? (Part 13)

  1. “Auto da Fe” by Roger Zelazny, innit?

  2. Dunno what story it is, but if I’d written it, it sure as hell would have been called “KILLDOZER!” with the exclamation point mandatory.

  3. (actually, no, it’s not. Grrrrr. Now I’m thinking David Gerrold or Alan Dean Foster)

  4. It’s called Why Johnny Can’t Speed by Alan Dean Foster. It is available as an audiobook as part of Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 7. You can find it here…


  5. From question to answer in half an hour. Holy crap, you lot know everything.

  6. Aha! Got it on second try: “Why Johnny Can’t Speed,” by Alan Dean Foster. First published in Galaxy in 1971; later collected in With Friends Like These… in 1977.

  7. I thought it was “X Marks the Pedwalk” by Harlan Ellison, I was wrong; someone already got it right — “Why Johnny Can’t Speed” by Alan Dean Foster.

  8. crashmstr // May 14, 2009 at 6:53 am //

    I don’t have the books in front of me to check, but it sounds like “Why Johnny Can’t Speed” by Alan Dean Foster (as others mentioned), or “Along the Senic Route” by Harlan Ellison. I remember both of these as being very similar.

  9. You folks are AMAZING! 

    Now to track it down.  Thank you, and happy reading!


  10. Yes, “Why Johnny Can’t Speed,” which was one of Steve Jackson’s fictional inspirations for Car Wars. “X Marks the Pedwalk” was another one, but that’s by Fritz Leiber, not Harlan Ellison.

  11. I remembered “Why Johnny Can’t Speed”  but not Alan Dean Foster.  This is a great group for remembering these things.  I think the buzzword is crowdsourcing.

    I recall reading this in a science ficntion collection called Future Cars or something like that.  It’s a classic.



  12. The Locus Index shows this bibliography for the story;

    “Why Johnny Can’t Speed”
     – (ss) Galaxy Sep 1971
     – Top Science Fiction, ed. Josh Pachter, Dent 1984
     – Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction # 2: The Science Fictional Olympics, ed. Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, Signet 1984

  13. Copies of TOP SCIENCE FICTION — containing Alan Dean Foster’s “Why Johnny Can’t Speed” and 24 other terrific stories, selected and introduced by the authors themselves — are available via my website.

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