I read this a long time ago, perhaps 30 years, and the story may have been older than that, in Danish. I remember some fragments that are really quite bizarre, but the main gist was that the general population lived in a sort of kindergarten, where everything was kept non-scary. Some points I remember:

  • Everybody was known by their first name only.
  • When people got too old, they were given a party and euthanised. This was called something euphemistic, like 'retiring' or 'being let go' or similar.
  • Once, an air-plane passed over the community and made a loud noise - and it was later announced that the pilot had been 'let go' as a consequence.

There is of course a young, male hero, who runs away, but this is where I think I may be mixing up two stories, because I seem to remember there was something about all the worries and trauma of reality being kept away from most people, but then channeled into a few individuals, somehow.


Perhaps "The Giver", by Lois Lowry?

I only remember first names. The society is very regimented -- including until what age you had a "comfort object" (stuffed animal).

Old people lived for a while in the House of the Old for a while. Then they were "released". This was 'celebrated' by the old people. They did not know where the old went when "released", but they were euthanized.

The incident with the airplane rings a bell, but I am not sure it was in this book. I think so though.

It did not look like a kindergarten society, there were family units, people worked, etc. But things were set up in such a way that people should never experience anything particularly unpleasant (or particularly wonderful either....).

One person ("The Receiver) has the task of remembering all the difficult parts of life, experiencing pain, etc. so that this wisdom can be used to make decisions for the society.

It might ring a bell for you that children were called "Elevens" or "Sevens", etc. "Twelves" sort of graduated, and got Assignments (what their jobs would be).

The main character is assigned to be the new "Receiver". He calls the old Receiver, who is training him, "The Giver". He is somehow given experiences (telepathically, apparently) of all sorts, good and bad. He begins to be able to see color, which was absent in the controlled reality everyone in the community experienced. He does indeed eventually run away from the controlled community.

  • It is available in the Open Library. – Basya Feb 18 '20 at 11:18
  • Yes, this is the one - or at least one of them. I'm sure I've mixed something from another story into what I remember. Maybe if I remember more, I'll post another question. Thanks! – j4nd3r53n Feb 18 '20 at 11:22
  • @j4nd3r53n I'm glad this helped you. BTW, I do not see anything in your question that looks like it was mixed in from another story, except the word 'matriarchal'. – Basya Feb 18 '20 at 12:14

Aspects of this remind me of Search the Sky by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, although some details do definitely not match. Since you indicate you may be mixing up two different stories, I'm suggesting it as one of the two.

In it, the protagonist goes in search for earth. He encounters a planet ruled by an extreme matriarchy. He starts out alone, but picks up people from other planets he visits, each ruled by different weird systems, such as a strict geriarchy).

When his party reaches earth, most of its inhabitants seem to have regressed to a state of idiocy. They are cared and provided for by a secret society of hyper-intelligent humans.

None of your bullet points matches, but the idea of a "kindergarten" society where adults are kept safe is seen both on the geriarchal planet they visit, as on earth. The latter also features most worries being "channeled" into a few individuals is seen on the earth they visit, in a sense.

  • No, not this one, but I'll give you a point for making me aware of another promising story, which I'll definitely get, if it still available. Thanks! – j4nd3r53n Feb 18 '20 at 11:13

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