I’m looking for a story/novella I read in an anthology 3 or 4 decades ago. It’s about a traveler who arrives at a planet where the society is centered on total honesty. The man is introduced to things we take for granted like sales and advertising, but with absolutely no shading of the truth. There was no money used, but the inhabitants had a system of mutual obligations that are called “obs”. The one concrete detail I remember is that the story begins by the main character getting onto a public conveyance with balloon tires.


1 Answer 1


That's Eric Frank Russell's "And Then There Were None".

It's got the balloon tires, "obs" = obligations, etc.

Not sure about the total honesty, though, but it's been a long time since I read it.

Eventually, a large coach from the outskirts, hit the high road, came bowling towards them. A long, shiny, streamlined job, it rolled on twenty balls in two rows of ten...


"Obligation. Why use a long word when a short one will do?"

The story was included in the fix-up novel The Great Explosion.

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    That’s it! Thanks!
    – Elby Mann
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 16:26
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    @ElbyMann welcome to the site! If this answers your question, please mark the answer as correct by clicking the gray check mark beside it. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 16:45
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    The "honesty" came in because if you didn't honour your obs nobody would have anything to do with you. They mention a young man who went from town to town, building up obs, until eventually no-one would give him anything; and I believe he starved to death.
    – sueelleker
    Commented 2 days ago

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