Some 20+ years ago, I’ve read a SF novella written by an American author, and I’d like to re-read this book.

The story goes like this: a farmer unearthes, while plowing his field, a sarcophagus with a man in cryo-sleep in it. Since it’s known what to do, he unfreezes the man and discovers that the guy is from the 20th century. While driving to the next city, the unfrozen man discovers that things seem off: for instance, the mph gauge shows a ridiculous speed, while it still feels the same as travelling felt in the 20th century. Shortly after, his benefactor reveals to him that only about 10k or so remain with an IQ above that of a slab of concrete, and that this part of mankind retreated to Antarctica.

The unfrozen guy proposes a solution to the problem by coming up with a disguised plan that suggests mankind to move to Mars. People begin moving there, write postcards, and over time, more and more become convinced that it’ll be great moving to Mars.

In the end, it turns out that they’ve shot the idiotic part of mankind into the sun, and the story ends with the unfrozen man himself being sent there because of his evil mind.

  • 1
    Sounds very similar to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/213325/…, which does not have an accepted answer (though one of the suggested answers is "The Marching Morons", as mentioned in an answer here).
    – Basya
    Jun 2, 2019 at 13:44
  • 1
    @Basya I don’t think “The Marching Morons” is the correct answer to the other question, though. The question is about a spaceship crashing into a body of water, which is not the case with “The Marching Morons”, who’re shot into the sun. Jun 3, 2019 at 8:50
  • Thank you. (Always possible that the questioner there remembered something wrong -- it happens -- but we can't know that without feedback from him...)
    – Basya
    Jun 3, 2019 at 8:55
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    not an answer, but a film on a similar vain is "Idiocracy" imdb.com/title/tt0387808
    – ErosRising
    Jun 3, 2019 at 10:34

1 Answer 1


This is very likely "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth.

The story follows John Barlow, who was put into suspended animation by a freak accident involving a dental drill and anesthesia. Barlow is revived hundreds of years in the future. The world seems mad to Barlow until he discovers the 'Problem of Population': due to a combination of intelligent people not having children and excessive breeding by less intelligent people and coupled with the development of more sophisticated machinery that makes it less important to possess intelligence in one's working life (see Fertility and intelligence), the world is full of morons, with the exception of an elite few who work slavishly to keep order. Barlow, who was a shrewd real estate con man in his day, has a solution to sell to the elite, in exchange for being made World Dictator.

From the Project Gutenberg text:

Hawkins, puffing, pried up a stainless steel plate that was quite badly stained and was also marked with incised letters. It seemed to have pulled loose from rotting bronze; there were rivets on the back that brought up flakes of green patina. The potter wiped off the surface dirt with his sleeve, turned it to catch the sunlight obliquely and read:


"Honest John," famed in university annals, represents a challenge which medical science has not yet answered: revival of a human being accidentally thrown into a state of suspended animation.


Barlow surveyed it with awe. Swept-back lines, deep-drawn compound curves, kilograms of chrome. He ran his hands futilely over the door—or was it the door?—in a futile search for a handle, and asked respectfully, "How fast does it go?"

The psychist gave him a keen look and said slowly, "Two hundred and fifty. You can tell by the speedometer."


Barlow gaped as Rogge-Smith took him by the elbow and his other boys appeared: Swenson-Swenson, the engineer; Tsutsugimushi-Duncan, his propellants man; Kalb-French, advertising.

"In you go, Chief," said Tsutsugimushi-Duncan. "This is Poprobterm."

"But I'm the world Dictator!"

"You bet, Chief. You'll be in history, all right—but this is necessary, I'm afraid."

The door was closed. Acceleration slammed Barlow cruelly to the metal floor. Something broke and warm, wet stuff, salty-tasting, ran from his mouth to his chin. Arctic sunlight through a port suddenly became a fierce lancet stabbing at his eyes; he was out of the atmosphere.

Lying twisted and broken under the acceleration, Barlow realized that some things had not changed, that Jack Ketch was never asked to dinner however many shillings you paid him to do your dirty work, that murder will out, that crime pays only temporarily.

The last thing he learned was that death is the end of pain.

One difference is that they believe they're going to Venus, not Mars.

"This is my program: I suggest that a city of more than 100,000 population be selected by lot. The citizens of the fortunate city are to be awarded choice lands on Venus free and clear, to have and to hold and convey to their descendants. And the national government shall provide free transportation to Venus for these citizens. And this program shall continue, city by city, until there has been deposited on Venus a sufficient vanguard of citizens to protect our manifest rights in that planet.

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    Also known as the plot of Mike Judge's "Idiocracy", with a happier ending for the protagonist (and the morons).
    – lonstar
    Jun 3, 2019 at 4:13
  • @FuzzyBoots Most likely, I wrongly remembered Mars. Venus sounds about right, and there is the part regarding digging up “soap roots” (or something to that avail), which they use to lure the morons, which I also remember from back when I read it. Nice work, thank you! Jun 3, 2019 at 8:46
  • 1
    Also here but unaccepted: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/196266/28516 Jun 3, 2019 at 10:45
  • 1
    @OrganicMarble You’re right—I’ve just upvoted your answer over there. Jun 4, 2019 at 20:13

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