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Help me remember a sci-fi book

  1. Jul 10, 2010 #1


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    Not sure why this book has been knocking around in my memory for a few weeks. I read it ~25 years ago, the details are very sketchy.

    The setting is Earth, sometime in the future. The world is faced with severe overpopulation, but there's a plan to reduce the population. Everyone will take a pill, and some portion of the pills are poison. The poison pills are randomly distributed, so you don't know if you were going to die or not.

    Then I really don't know what happened!

    Does this ring a bell to anyone?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2010 #2
    Not ringing any bells with me, Lisa, but I've posted on a book-geek site asking if anyone there can bring it to mind. I'll let you know if I find out anything.

    And, don't you just hate it when stuff like this is on the tip of your brain and you can't pry it loose? It's like Dave's falling box.
  4. Jul 11, 2010 #3


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    Couldn't find Lisa's book through Google but, now you've got me wondering what Dave's falling box is. :confused:
  5. Jul 11, 2010 #4


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    Everyone will take a pill, and some portion of the pills are poison. The poison pills are randomly distributed ..

    This sounds like a fascinating story line. Hope someone tracks down the name of the book. I wouldn't mind reading it.
  6. Jul 11, 2010 #5


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    Hmm..I remember a short story built around the same principle:

    In the future, one lives in a socialist state, and all inhabitants are required to drive on holiday at designated sites.
    Along the route, everyone must pass through a tunnel; which will close off at some time, injecting poison gas into the tunnel.

    The scheme has been used a number of times, I think..
  7. Jul 11, 2010 #6
  8. Jul 11, 2010 #7


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    Does anyone know of a sci-fi book on time travel containing the phrases "somewhen," "anywhen," "nowhen," etc., (symmetrical with "somewhere," "anywhere," etc.)? Heinlein?

    Does anyone remember a sci-fi novel of interstellar travel in a huge ship, which lasts for generations, and the descendants -- except a few "dangerous misfits" -- come to see their ship as the entire universe?
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
  9. Jul 11, 2010 #8

    Jonathan Scott

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    I think I've read more than one which fits each category. In both cases, they were "golden age" books rather than modern ones.

    The second is probably Robert Heinlein's "Orphans of the Sky".

    I'm not sure about the first; I think it's more likely to be Silverberg than Heinlein, although Asimov also uses similar terms in "End of Eternity".
  10. Jul 11, 2010 #9


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    All 3 concepts have been done to death. That is not to say that any or all examples are bad. It's simply that there is no such thing as a new idea; every author, however, approaches the subject in a different way that makes the work unique. For instance, "Forbidden Planet" was based upon "The Tempest"; Star Trek's "Conscience of the King" upon "King Lear", etc.. The best example that I've seen was an anthology wherein one of the big Golden Age authors (Poul Anderson, I think) commissioned nearly a dozen writers to each provide a short story based upon a fellow of a particular name leaving home one day for a visit to the local euthanasia clinic. They were all so different that I read the whole collection from front to back with absolutely no sense of "rerun".
    Here's a starting point for Enuma's inquiry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsewhen" [Broken] There are also "Paths to Otherwhere" and "Voyage From Yesteryear" by James P. Hogan, which might be candidates for such a vague question.
    I agree that "Orphans of the Sky" is likely the most-read novel regarding a generation ship. (If you vaguely remember a two-headed dwarf named Bobo, then it's definitely the one.) There was also Harlan Ellison's "Phoenix Without Ashes". It was published in an anthology, but was actually a screenplay and was printed in that format. The script was bastardized into the awful, but still watchable, "The Starlost" TV series. Ellison was so appalled at the result that he demanded to be credited as "Cordwainer Bird" rather than under his real name.
    I haven't a clue about the original question, but Andre's response is quite solid. The basic premise has been used repeatedly, including in such books as "Logan's Run".
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Jul 12, 2010 #10
    I've heard of several books, all with a similar premise. Their titles escape me. Can you remember anything else about the book? I agree with the others, this seems like a very interesting storyline.

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  12. Jul 12, 2010 #11


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    Yes, but I didn't realize it until you asked. :redface:
  13. Jul 15, 2010 #12
    Okay, so, Lisa, I copied your question and posted it on a book-geek site. They're generally good at identifying obscure lit stuff. I've only got one response so far to your question and she said, "No, I haven't heard of it. But I'd love to read it!"

    I'll keep waiting. :smile:
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