I'm looking for the title/author of a short sci-fi story about a domed isolated city where people undergo (without knowing) a hypnotic treatment, to see the city as lush and beautiful, with parks and lots of green, when in fact it's a horrible industrial inferno with fire, heavy machinery and noise. The protagonist starts to see reality when the hypnotic treatment wears off from time to time, making him think he's having horrible apocalyptic visions or going insane, when in fact he's seeing the city the way it actually is, momentarily.

The protagonist seeks help and goes to see a trusted friend, a blind man (who is like a counselor/psychologist). The blind man then consults with someone else (probably from the small elite governing the city) who knows the truth: that the protagonist is not insane, he's not having visions, only that everyone undergoes a hypnotic treatment to see the city as beautiful so as to not live through the trauma of inhabiting a noisy, industrial inferno. The protagonist never finds this out.

The story is none of the following:

  • "The Futurological Congress" by Stanislaw Lem.
  • "The Mad Metropolis" by Philip E. High.
  • "Moongazer" by Marianne Mancusi.
  • "The Eyes of the Overworld" by Jack Vance.
  • "The Cull" by Robert Reed.
  • 1
    Hi! Can you provide details about when and where you read the story? Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 11:10
  • 4
    The Futurological Congress? See also this question. Though that is chemicals in the air not hypnotic conditioning, and it's a chemist who reveals the truth not a blind man. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 11:31
  • 2
    Similar to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/176567/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 11:34
  • 2
    Thank you! Unfortunately it's none of these. The story was from an anthology collecting only authors from the US, probably from the 80s, although the story was much older, very probably from the 60s/70s. It's not "The Futurological Congress" or the stories in the above links, although they have similar elements. The protagonist was a man, the population was hypnotized, not drugged or living in a simulated/virtual reality.
    – Sonny Z.
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 12:02
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    Parts of Jack Vance's The Eyes of the Overworld bear mentioning.
    – Lexible
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Found it: the story is "Jesting Pilot" by Lewis Padgett (joint pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). First published in "Astounding Science Fiction" May, 1947.

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