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A coworker was telling me about a Sci-Fi book he read in the 80s but couldn't remember the title.

He vaguely remembers there being humans on another planet who would randomly choose 5 leaders. He said that 5 other people decided they wanted to rule so they murdered the random ones and impersonated them so they could rule instead.

These people could also donate blood and tissue to avoid working so nobody on the planet works. The revenue of the planet seemed to come from these donations. It is a very overpopulated planet and takes place primarily in an urban setting.

They also can go to a "carnival" and ride the rides as a game. If they win the game, they get to keep riding, if they lose, they die.

He said it had a dystopian feel and was a part of a Sci-Fi book subscription service. He read it in English.

  • Hi there! There's some good info already, but could you maybe take a look at these guidelines on story-id questions, see if that triggers any more memories you could edit in? For instance, did he read that in English, was it a translation? What did the cover look like? – Jenayah Dec 18 '18 at 23:18
  • I've added a couple details. I will ask him about the cover when he gets back and if he can remember any character details. Thanks! – Molly Dec 18 '18 at 23:40
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Parts of this sounf very much like Wyst: Alastor 1716, by Jack Vance. It the last of the three Alastor novels, taking place in the titular star cluster. Personally, I think it is the best of the three novels; however, while each one can be read independently, I think you get the best experience from reading them in order.

While the main character of the book is an off-worlder, the setting is a world where (almost) everyone is strictly equal. Even the leaders of the planet are subject to the same lousy food and working conditions as everyone else. (Years ago, I saw a review of the novel online, which pointed out that Vance's viewpoint is very antagonistic to the pseudo-communist Wystian society, making the communist inhabitants literally "lazy, baby-eating" scum.) The protagonist, while visiting the planet on an extended vacation, also has to participate in the same cultural and economic activities as everyone else.

The villains of the piece do indeed kill the randomly selected leaders of the planet, taking over rule in their stead. Moreover, the hopeless overcrowding of the cities is a recurring theme in the book. On the other hand, I do not remember any elements about carnival rides or tissue donations, so this is not a perfect match.

  • Thank you! I will find out from him if this is the book he remembers! – Molly Dec 19 '18 at 14:37
  • I think you've nailed it. I vaguely remember something about the people donating blood in lieu of work and coming back all drained. – Organic Marble Dec 19 '18 at 20:51
  • @Buzz, I think this is it! Thank you so much! – Molly Dec 21 '18 at 18:51

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