Practical Technology

for practical people.

Two Cow Jokes: The Science Fiction ones


Two Cow jokes started out as a spin from the introductory economic example of the limits of a barter society. For example, if you have two cows and want chickens, you need to find someone who’s willing to trade an awful of chickens for one cow, and that’s no way to make an omelet. A typical Two Cow jokes goes like this: Communism: You have two cows. The government takes them, and tells you to be happy with your pint of milk a day.

These are my favorites from a set of science-fiction based Two Cow jokes from science-fiction author, George R.R. Martin’s Web forum. Yes, this has nothing to do with the subjects I usually cover. Onward!

Alien – You have two cows, but no-one can hear them moo.

Richard Adams – You have no cows, but you do have a lot of rabbits.

Isaac Asimov Foundation – You have two cows. You keep finding cryptic notes telling you when to milk them.

Roger Zelazny’s Amber – You have two cows, all other cows are shadow.

Piers Anthony – You have two cows, and continue to milk them long after you should have stopped.

A Song of Ice and Fire – You have two cows. They both get killed.

Stephen Brust – You have two cows. You kill one and make dinner using the flank steak lightly cooked in olive oil with garlic, shallots, paprika, 5 different kinds of pepper and turmeric. It is served with a red wine reduction sauce flavored with tarragon, basil and vinegar on a square plate with rounded corners and filigreed edges.

Philip K. Dick – You have two cows. One of them watches you when your back is turned. The other has stolen your drugs on behalf of the government.

Dune – You have two cows. One cow is very special, a result of a special breeding program of the Bene Farmer. He is the Kwisatz Udderach – the one who can milk in many places at once. It is he who will lead his millions of Frecows across the pastures, like a fire of death across the known universe, trying to end the tyranny of the Milkstraad.


Dune: You have two cows…. Wait… It’s Baron Harkonnen!

Dungeons and Dragons – You, a rogue, and a cleric enter a mysterious field; suddenly you see two cows. Roll and add the number to your milking skill to see how much milk you can get from them.

Harlan Ellison – You have no cows, but you must moo.

The Handmaid’s Tale – The humans only use their two cows for milk and breeding. And bestiality.

Highlander – In the end, there can only be one cow.

The Island of Dr. Moreau – You make two cow-people. They kill you.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – You have two cows. One of them is a right evil bastard. And come to think of it, you’ve never seen them both in the same room…

L. Ron Hubbard – You have two cows. Now give them to Tom Cruise.

Laurell Hamilton, The Anita Blake series – You have two cows. They want you to be their leader but you have to have sex with them first.

Robin Hobb – You have two cows. But you cannot allow anyone to know about it. No one can know the suffering of your heart or your power over them. You milk them from the shadows.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy – You have two cows. You can only get milk out of them if you know their real names.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness – You have two cows. Sometimes you have two bulls instead.

Lord of the Rings – Two cows to rule them all.

Sword of Shannara – Two cows to rule them all.

(sjvn: really tells you everything you need to know about Sword doesn’t it?)

Mad Max – Two cows enter. One cow leaves.

George Orwell – You have two cows, and the big one is always watching.

J.K. Rowling – You have one cow. It shits gold.

Neal Stephenson – You have two cows. Suitably regular complex-valued periodic functions on the real line have Fourier series and these functions can be recovered from their Fourier series.

Thomas Covenant – You appear to have two cows, but you refuse to believe it.

John Varley – You have two head of cattle. On the moon. You can freely switch back and forth between cows and bulls whenever you feel like it.

World War Z – You have two cows, but they are eaten by Zombies.

And, last of all:

H.P. Lovecraft – In the Stygian blackness that surrounds men and all of creation you acquire two cows. They whisper unknowable things to you at night. You mind bleeds with images drawn from the darkest wells of the universe even as you sense a mere fragment of the elder gods shadow your every thought. Slowly, you suspect you have become mad as you rave these truths to your fellow human beings even as your plead to your cows to stop their whispering to you.

Wait! There’s more!

From my friend Bill Machrone, former editor-in-chief of PC Mag comes:

Early Heinlein: You have two cows. They’re full of moral certitude. One is a redhead and they save the solar system from the bad guys.

Middle Heinlein: You have two cows. They’re really the same cow, but one is from the future.

Late Heinlein: You have two cows. They bathe often and have morally ambiguous, solipsistic sex.

Fritz Lieber: You have two bulls: They get drunk and argue about whose cow is prettier. They come to blows, but become fast friends.

Anne McCaffrey: The cows have a psychic bond with their Riders.

Larry Niven: Keep selenium-bearing yams the hell out of the cows’ diet!

Jerry Pournelle: We cows have always been a spacefaring, warlike race.


from my writing buddy Ken Hess comes:

Asimov: The 3 Laws of Cowbotics

A cow may not injure a another cow or bull or, through inaction, allow a cow or bull to come to harm.

A cow must obey orders given it by bulls except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A cow must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

And, yet another goodie. This one from my bud Jason Perlow.

David Brin: Cows are part of a Galactic Federation of genetically uplifted farm animals, crewing grass-carpeted starships with their sponsor race, Humanity.


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