I was reminded of this story I read long ago by this question:

Short story about a future where everyone is equal

Unfortunately, it is just possible that this particular story was a french original. Probably not, but just possibly. Anyone familiar with french SF, just in case ?

Anyway, in this story, there was a twist. Everyone wore the same clothes, ate the same food, lived in apartments perfectly identical. But the rich people bought the very same items much more than the poor ones, and the only difference between the items were the price tags that were visibly displayed. So the rich could boast about paying exactly the same objects twice, ten times or one thousand times more than the poor ones.

Of course it was just a parody of a dystopia, but I forgot the other details.

A warning. What follows might well be a false memory, but it is just possible that this is a story within a story. Within an "outside" story taking place in our own world, or a world very close to ours, a writer writes the above story, or tells a friend a synopsis of a story he is writing, or wants to write. For some reason, I vaguely remember that the idea for this story came to the writer from a reflection about decaffeinated coffee. But this is very fuzzy. The story I am asking for might be the only story after all, not one into another one.

  • Short story? Do you remember if you read it in an anthology or a magazine?
    – DavidW
    Oct 7, 2019 at 22:38
  • Alas, no. It was long ago, I remember very little about it. It it weren't for the one that brought it back to my mind, I would not even have remembered it. Not even if I read it in english or in french, and in the second case whether it was an original or a translation from english.
    – Alfred
    Oct 7, 2019 at 22:41
  • 2
    It sounds like something Kilgore Trout would scribble down.
    – moopet
    Oct 8, 2019 at 10:04
  • Thanks for the suggestion, but he appears in many many novels by Vonnegut. Would you have a more precise idea ?
    – Alfred
    Oct 8, 2019 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


The closest I can think is "The Midas Plague" by Pohl and Kornbluth, which is about poor people having to consume more than rich people, wearing multiple pairs of pants to wear them out, etc.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. If I remember "The Midas Plague" correctly, the rich didn't necessarily pay a lot more for the same goods, they were simply required to use less. Can you expand your answer to show it's a good match? Some quotes would help.
    – DavidW
    Aug 4, 2022 at 20:41
  • @Griz Don't bother following DavidW's advice. Your answer is clearly not the right one and I will not accept it. However, if nobody gives the correct answer till the end of the validity of the bounty itself, I will use the "grace period" that follows to "manually" award the bounty to you for your efforts, even unsuccessful.
    – Alfred
    Aug 5, 2022 at 6:32
  • @Griz As promised, I "manually" awarded you the 100 bonus points now that the "normal" period has expired and the "grace period" has started. But, on purpose, I did not formally accept your answer by clicking on the "check mark" (V-shaped sign) next to your answer because your answer is not the right one. I rewarded your efforts, not your result.
    – Alfred
    Aug 7, 2022 at 5:08
  • @Griz But on your own question, about butterflies, you still have not clicked on the "check mark" to formally accept the answer, though you wrote in a comment it is indeed the right one. Please do so and I will then upvote your question. This is something you should learn to do if you continue to be active in this forum.
    – Alfred
    Aug 7, 2022 at 5:08

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