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Can you name this book?

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Can you name this book?

Postby SanctaFutura » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:25 pm

I am trying to identify a book I read a few years ago -- I'd love to read it again, or others by the same author, but have no idea of the title or author. I'm hoping someone here will know it.

My guess is that it was written by one of the classic science fiction authors of the '50s and '60s. The story takes place in the distant future, when Earth is little more than a legend to inhabitants of colonized planets. The protagonist is a guy (I'll call him Joe Schmoe) who has a very routine job at a space port, a sort of space traffic controller. An urgent message comes in from an unidentified ship, and he forwards it to his supervisor, who ignores it. Somehow, Joe leaves on the ship that sent the message and discovers that the ship is automated. It sends him to a couple of other planets, with very different societies than his own, where he must rescue/recruit one particular person to continue the voyage with him. (I remember he rescued a woman from a very oppressive planet.)

Joe and those he has rescued are then taken to Earth -- they marvel to realize that this mythical world actually exists, and are thrilled to meet the people of the legendary home of humanity. The problem is that everyone on Earth seems very stupid. Joe inadvertently gets involved in a popular TV game show, which asks questions so stupid that Joe can't believe the contestants are unable to answer them (stuff like "What's the letter of the alphabet that comes after C?" or "What is 2 plus 1?"). Joe blurts out the answers and everyone thinks he is some kind of genius -- he actually becomes ruler of Earth.

In the end, he learns that the ship that picked him up was sent to find descendants of Earth who still have a little gumption and ingenuity, because the rest of the human race has become so accustomed to machines doing everything for them that they've become virtual idiots. Because he responded to the distress call, even when the bureaucrats from his planet ignored it, Joe has proven that he is smarter than anyone on Earth and thus is given the responsibility of governing Earth (secretly), for the Earthlings own good.

It was a funny book. I may not have remembered everything correctly, but I hope I got enough of it right to make it recognizable to someone who can tell me the author and/or title. Thanks! :alien:
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Re: Can you name this book?

Postby Asp Zelazny » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:39 pm

At first blush, I"m not familiar with that book. Still, the thing about the game show and the developed Earth population stupidity sounds very much like the work of C.M.Kornbluth. That was a recurrent theme of his, especially well played out in the short stories "The Marching Morons" and "The Little Black Bag." I guess I'd start looking in Kornbluth's works, and if you haven't read them and enjoyed the book you describe, I'd suggest at least those 2 short stories of his. There is an iTunes download of 9 of his shorts, including those 2 for (if I remember correctly) only $0.99.
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Re: Can you name this book?

Postby SanctaFutura » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:32 pm

Excellent suggestion. I found the book among Kornbluth's novels. It's "Search the Sky," written in collaboration with Frederik Pohl.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_the_Sky
One less thing niggling at the edge of my mind. :)
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Re: Can you name this book?

Postby bruce741 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:49 am

I guess I'd start looking in Kornbluth's works, and if you haven't read them and enjoyed the book you describe, I'd suggest at least those 2 short stories of his.
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Re: Can you name this book?

Postby Barclay4 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:41 am

Thanks for the post!
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Re: Can you name this book?

Postby DrCherryCollier » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:29 am

thank you for your post friend ,,,,, it's rally nice funny book
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