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Looking for a short story I read in an anthology or SF magazine in the late Fifties or Sixties. It could have been older of course. It was in English.

This very short story was about a man who is furtively going into a movie theater to see a smutty movie. The twist was that instead of sex, the movie was about food. The protagonist is living in a society where food imagery is discouraged, I don't remember if it's because of taboos or food scarcity. There were no aliens in the story, only humans. The person in the theater was alone not with a group. At some point, the man is unhappy because he can't smell the movie, then the olfactory module starts to work and he's happy.

As I said, this is a very short story so there's not much more to describe. Any help would be appreciated.

  • I read this! I remember it being a book, though. – Andrés E. Caicedo Aug 12 '17 at 0:21
  • I'm sure what I read was a short story. Maybe it was an excerpt? Maybe it was included in a novel later? Maybe it was just a similar scene? – John Thompson Aug 12 '17 at 1:40
  • I'll see if I can remember. It's been a while. – Andrés E. Caicedo Aug 12 '17 at 1:45
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"Drool", a short story (3 pages) by Vance Aandahl, published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1969, available at the Internet Archive. Apparently never reprinted in English, although an Italian translation titled "Acquolina" appeared in Urania #531, 1970.

When Tantalus looked at the screen, he was struck by the age of the film. The color was bad, and the depth looked unreal on the right half of the image. Worse, either there was no odor track or else the projector wasn't picking it up.

Finding quality pornography had gotten much harder since the passage of the new anti-smut law. Tantalus uttered a silent curse, then leaned forward to gaze deeply into the screen.

Almost immediately he felt excitement thrilling through his guts.

It was a filet mignon.

[. . . .]

Suddenly the odor track snapped on. The tiny room was permeated by an irresistible aroma of steak.

  • Just read it at the Internet Archive. This is exactly the story! 1969 was the first year I had a subscription to FaSF. – John Thompson Nov 14 '17 at 18:02
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This sounds like part of Kurt Vonegurt Jr's Breakfast of Champions. It has the exact scene you describe. It's a novel, though it could easily be misremembered as a series of short stories because it's typically disconnected.

Here's the excerpt of the first time it's mentioned. I believe it comes back into the novel once or twice but I can't find where. The full text of the novel is available online.

The movie theater where Trout sat with all his parcels in his lap showed nothing but dirty movies. The music was soothing. Phantasms of a young man and a young woman sucked harmlessly on one another's soft apertures on the silver screen. And Trout made up a new novel while he sat there. It was about an Earthling astronaut who arrived on a planet where all the animal and plant life had been killed by pollution, except for humanoids. The humanoids ate food made from petroleum and coal.

They gave a feast for the astronaut, whose name was Don. The food was terrible. The big topic of conversation was censorship. The cities were blighted with motion picture theaters which showed nothing but dirty movies. The humanoids wished they could put them out of business somehow, but without interfering with free speech. They asked Don if dirty movies were a problem on Earth, too, and Don said, "Yes." They asked him if the movies were really dirty, and Don replied, "As dirty as movies could get." This was a challenge to the humanoids, who were sure then: dirty movies could beat anything on Earth. So everybody piled into air-cushion vehicles, and they floated to a dirty movie house downtown.

It was intermission time when they got there, so Don had some time to think about what could possibly be dirtier than what he had already seen on Earth. He became sexually excited even before the house lights went down. The women in his party were all twittery and squirmy.

So the theater went dark and the curtains opened. At first there wasn't any picture. There were slurps and moans from loudspeakers. Then the picture itself appeared. It was a high quality film of a male humanoid eating what looked like a pear. The camera zoomed in on his lips and tongue and teeth, which glistened with saliva. He took his time about eating the pear. When the last of it had disappeared into his slurpy mouth, the camera focussed on his Adam's apple. His Adam's apple bobbed obscenely

  • 2
    Can you please provide some evidence, such as a quote that matches the question, so that users in the future can tell if it's what they're looking for? – Mithrandir Aug 12 '17 at 22:24
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    Thanks for the feedback, moopet. Vonnegut is an interesting suggestion but I have a strong impression that I read this before 1973 when Breakfast of Champions was published. I will seek out a copy to check it out, though. The more time I spend trying to remember stuff, the more I realize how drastically memories can be distorted. – John Thompson Aug 13 '17 at 2:19
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    This is definitely NOT the story I'm thinking of though it was a reasonable guess by moopet given that there are food porn movies in Breakfast of Champions. There are several differences between the BoC scene and my memory. There were no aliens in the story I remember, only humans. The focus of the movie was the food in my memory, not saliva, lips, and Adam's apples. The person in the theater was alone in my memory, not with a group. There was an olfactory aspect of the movie in my memory, none in this scene. Nice try, good suggestion, but BoC isn't the story I'm looking for. – John Thompson Aug 17 '17 at 1:45
  • I added these details to the body of my question. – John Thompson Aug 17 '17 at 1:51

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