I read this short story about 15 years ago, dystopic future where humans are divided into castes and at the top of the oligarchy there are the wealthiest and the ones with the right genes, i.e. one of your ancestors was a genius like Einstein, based on the hypothesis that eventually those genes will be embodied in another genius.

The story is about a rich girl who has a boyfriend coming from the poor and illiterate; however this boy is very intelligent, can read, write, play the piano marvelously etc. The girl's father is not against the relationship, maybe because he was not that brilliant, but in the right position due to one of his ancestors, but the mother and her brother (not sure about this latter relationship) are totally against it.

Unfortunately for the young lovers, the girl's mum gives her secretly an anti-pregnancy medicine that will kill anyone who is not from the right caste if an intercourse happen.

the story ends with the girl and his father mourning over the dead boyfriend.

What is author and or the name of the story?

P.S. I read the story in italian so, considering translation and publishing times, it might be dated much older than 2000's

  • Do you know anything else about it? When and where was the story written?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 16:31
  • Does "years ago" mean like 5 years ago or like 50 years ago? You see, we don't know how old you are.
    – user14111
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 19:24
  • I am the OP, i tried to edit the question to add the requested info about timing but i do not see the changes nor the to-be-peer-reviewed warning. So i re-add the info here... I read the story about 15 years ago but since i read it in italian, considering transltion and publishing time it might well be much older than 2000's. Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 14:25
  • This sounds like "The boy and the morning after pill", it was a good read! Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 14:27
  • @RyanJ Can you give me a little more detail? i tried to google for that title but did not find any info. Who was the author? Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 7:06

1 Answer 1


The story is almost certainly "The Price of Civilization" (1992) by Charles Sheffield and later appeared in FUTURE QUARTET Earth in the Year 2042 : A Four-Part Invention (in Italian, "Il prezzo della Civiltà", published in 1997 in Urania #1301 titled "Anno 2042"). The quote below is from Amazing Stories #67.

Alla fine tutto si era risolto bene, ma se Beth avesse detto fin dall'inizio a suo padre quel che stava succedendo, lui le avrebbe reso le cose molto più facili. Todd avrebbe trovato il modo di spiegarle la faccenda, e tutto sarebbe "finito", subito. Sarebbe riuscito a convincerla. Sapeva di poterlo fare. Ma non ne aveva avuto la possibilità.

(back-translation to English mine)

In the end all ended well, but had Beth but told his father everything from the beginning, he could have made things so much simpler for her. Todd would have been able to explain it to her, and the matter would have been closed, at once. He would have convinced her. He knew he could have done it. But he hadn't had the chance.

The dead boy was called Danny Shawner, if that helps, and was a member of ELITE - which I think meant "not required to read or write functionally", and in Italian was rendered with the horrible backronym of *Esonerati dal Leggere-scrivere In Totale Esercizio-funzioni".

The boy is indeed brilliant and self-taught himself how to read and write, and in the words of Beth's father "he has terrific musical ability" and "he's brighter than I am"; he actually could pass himself (not intentionally) for an upper caste, and was "given away" by his address in the slums. The father isn't opposed, the mother and her brother are dead against the relation.

The girl gets "immunized" at her mother's behest with the "special immunization (of the Inner Circle)", which is actually a secret, fast-acting neuroactive virus with obligatory sexual transmission, to which all the upper crust is unknowingly immunized, and gengineered to dissolve ninety minutes after death.

  • Great job on finding this!
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 20:17
  • Congratulations, that was it! you made a great job; i just checked in that very book you mentioned: Urania 1301 from 1997. Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 8:00
  • ugh... still taught that @Ryan J title was much, much better!! made me lol.
    – Cherubel
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 8:53

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