I've searched for this short story for years.

In it, everybody is given $1,000,000 at birth. A single guy figures out how to game the system. Everybody thinks he's crazy to buck the system but he wins.

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    Is there anything in this story that is science fictional or fantastical? I mean giving someone a million dollars at birth is fantastical to an extent but could plausibly happen (hahaha) so it isn't really fantastical. Could you edit to explain why this is SFF-nal?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 21, 2019 at 16:41
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    You're looking for smbc-comics.com/comic/2012-11-19 . Everyone is given a soul at birth, but one scientist figures out how to game the system. She wins.
    – b_jonas
    Feb 21, 2019 at 16:49
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    In hindsight, @user14111 makes a good point about the "everyone" part. (plus if you remember it being scifi, that's good enough for me, your memory has proven to be way trustable!) Hence, voted to reopen.
    – Jenayah
    Feb 21, 2019 at 23:51
  • I can't remember title/author but I've read this as well in a sci fi anthology
    – Danny Mc G
    Feb 22, 2019 at 5:04
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    The discussion about whether or not this is on-topic has been moved to chat; please discuss it there and on meta.
    – Null
    Feb 22, 2019 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


I wonder if this is Future Perfect by A. E. van Vogt.

If so, people are given the million dollars on their eighteenth birthday not at birth. They spend it throughout their lives and the state gets back what is left when they die. The protagonist, Steven Dalkins, spends his million dollars within the first week of receiving it and the story kicks off from there.

The story is one of those libertarian themed stories that were so popular at the time. The future USA depicted in the story is rigidly controlled for the good of the citizens. For example all males are chemically neutered at birth and this is only neutralised when they marry the partner allotted to them by the state.

Steven Dalkins spends his million as part of a plan to overthrow the rigid control of the state by undermining all the principles upon which it is based. For example he spends the million dollars immediately, then contrives to get his neutering reversed without getting married and marries for love - not to the partner allocated to him by the state. By the end of the story it is implied he has been successful and the rigidly controlled state is about to collapse. The moral is that freedom from control is best even when it involves sacrifices.

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    Huh, you would think if the government gave everyone a million dollars and had dystopian control, they would make sure someone couldn't overthrow the government with a million dollars. They were totally asking for it.
    – JMac
    Feb 22, 2019 at 14:29
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    @JMac it's not a conventional dystopia in the 1984 sense. It's more of a nanny state taken to an extreme. None of the government employees are portrayed as malign. In fact the only bad thing that happens is the murder of a woman by one of the protagonist's accomplices. Feb 22, 2019 at 15:14
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    @user14111 Doesn't its appearance in a SF magazine make it on-topic, by definition?
    – Spencer
    Feb 22, 2019 at 15:19
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    @JohnRennie Doesn't really matter if they're malicious or not, if their purpose was still control. Just seems like a massive oversight to me. Obviously not saying it's completely unrealistic, just pointing out that they must not have had the best control plan in place if they were handing out the ability to overthrow themselves.
    – JMac
    Feb 22, 2019 at 15:20
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    @JMac "van Vogt" and "realistic" are two things that do not often appear together. Feb 22, 2019 at 15:31

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