Love, Incorporated

(Also titled “Pilgrimage to Earth”)

By Robert Sheckley

But the new worlds were austere, carefully planned, sterile in their perfections. Something had been lost in the dead reaches of space, and only Earth knew love.

* * *

At last he [Alfred Simon, the protagonist, from Kazanga IV] came to Earth, where dreams must come true, for there is a law against their failure.

* * *

[On Earth, when you go to a carnival, you are allowed to shoot people, with their willing compliance.]

Simon rubbed his forehead and tried not to act surprised. After all, this was Earth, where anything was allowed as long as it was commercially feasible.

* * *

He reminded himself that he must not judge Earth by his own standards. If people on Earth enjoyed killing people, and the victims didn’t mind being killed, why should anyone object?

* * *

[Later on.… Simon is not interested in war. He’s looking for love, but can’t believe it can be bought.]

The little man smiled modestly. “Love and war,” he said, “are Earth’s two staple commodities. We’ve

been turning them both out in bumper crops since the beginning of time.”

* * *

[Simon is referred to Love, Inc.]

“That’s the whole point! Anyone can buy sex. Good lord, it’s the cheapest thing in the universe, next to human life. But love is rare, love is special, love is found only on Earth. Have you read our brochure?”

* * *

[The company finds a mate for him, and they are in madly in love, till the rental time for love is out. It is real love, but the woman is programmed for a specific time period, and then she is off to fall in love with someone else. Simon is permanently lovestruck and can’t accept this. He wanders about in despair, till he returns to the shooting gallery ….]

“Try your luck?” the manager asked.

“Set ’em up,” said Alfred Simon.

FOR FUN: How Our Sun Warps Our Brains

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress


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