A short science fiction story where medical science has enabled almost instant body reconstruction, causing a reality-based form of entertainment where you can vote for your hero or villain to be actually mauled by a lion or shot and then restored to health only to have the same done again in the next episode. The story examines the morality of this and other issues. I'm sure it was in a compilation of science fiction short stories.

  • When did you read this? In what language? What other sorts of stories were in the book? Do you remember the cover? You can find more questions to answer to help us help you here. Please, look through the list and edit your question with as many as you can.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


This has just been linked by the more recent question Short story where TV audiences vote on the plot points of live serials and that provided enough extra information to make identification possible. It is What Do the Simple Folk Do? by Alan Dean Foster. I read it in his anthology Who Needs Enemies, which according to the ISFDB is the only place it has been published.

Alan Dean Foster's introduction to the story is:

This story grew over the years out of a teleplay I did while I was a senior at UCLA. Pure science fiction. The idea of interactive television, of an audience able to make its opinions known instantly to the producers of a certain program, was nothing more than a flight of fantasy.

A number of years ago, Warner Amex Cable established its QUBE channel in Columbus, Ohio. QUBE permits viewers to vote on issues while they're being discussed on the air - thus making their opinions known to a central site via special cable hookups to their home TVs.

Harmless enough technological advance, isn't it? Of course, the less-than-harmless extrapolation that logically follows could never happen. It's pure science fiction. A flight of fantasy.

Besides which, this is America...

As you say, the actors are routinely violently injured as part of the programming:

David stood abruptly and stared down the table at the startled creative programmer. "I asked you whether or not you feel any remorse over having hundreds of performers a year murdered in cold blood!"

"Really, R.L.," said Marple, "I must protest, I... I..." With great dignity he turned to face David. "I'll have you know, Mr. Texas, that I personally interview every performer who appears on 'True Tales of the Old West.' They all know what to expect. Union rules are scrupulously adhered to. CBC has, I might add, the finest autotechs and restorers in the business. Once in a great while someone will come out of a show with a small scar or nick, but that's the risk of the trade."

"What about psychic scars, Marple? Sure, no one is permanently injured. But they feel those bullets and arrows penetrating their flesh, they feel the hurt and the pain, the - "

"That will be quite enough, Mr. Texas," pontificated R. L. "This isn't the twentieth century, you know. So a little pain is involved. No one is forced to become an actor. For what they're paid, they can tolerate a little mutilation here and there. Have you ever watched 'Claudius of Rome'? Now there's a show takes a strong stomach to sit through! I think you owe Marple, here, an apology."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.