I read this story sometime in the '90s in an old magazine so it's certainly written no later than late '80s, probably even earlier.

I recall that it begins with the protagonist being punished for some crime by a person coming to his house and placing a mark on his face (I think it was on the forehead) that would mean the protagonist would be completely ignored by everyone who didn't have this mark, under the fear of being punished themselves. The punishment was supposed to last for a year.

I remember that at some point during this protagonist had appendicitis and had to find a doctor who would treat him. The story is mostly about him trying to survive this year and trying to force someone to interact with him.

  • 1
    Note, not a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/241326/… since one is about the TV adaptation of the story identified below.,
    – Valorum
    Jun 20, 2021 at 11:27
  • 8544-hour solitary confinement? gosh, that's harsh. Jun 20, 2021 at 21:07
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    Can I pretty pretty please live in such a society and commit a crime there every year? Jun 20, 2021 at 23:06
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    I don't know what would make you think about this story again now, in 2021 ;)
    – AJFaraday
    Jun 21, 2021 at 8:26
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    @RazarMackham - not everybody! He could associate with other convicted criminals. Sounds like a bad idea to me...
    – Tim
    Jun 21, 2021 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


Pretty sure this is To See the Invisible Man by Robert Silverberg. The story was first published in the April 1963 issue of Worlds of Tomorrow, and later reprinted in numerous other publications, including several in the 1980s and '90s.

This review offers a good description of the plot, noting that the protagonist is subjected to an unusual form of punishment, whereby he's marked with a brand on his forehead which compels everyone else to ignore him for a year, lest they be punished the same way:

“To See the Invisible Man” is clearly not action-oriented pulp, but is a dark tale of alienation and of a form of reconciliation or enlightenment. The protagonist has been “cold” to society, not sympathizing with his fellow man. This isn’t an offense that receives jail time, but the “lesser” sentence of being made Invisible for a year. A temporary brand is placed on the perpetrator’s forehead and anyone who acknowledges his existence will be made Invisible, themselves. The story follows the man’s testing of the limits, experiencing quickly palling cheap thrills, and moving through more painful, fearful, and depressing experiences as he adjusts to his condition. Finally, he is released from his sentence as a changed man, but his change is not without irony.

In the 1980s, the story was adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

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    This is the exact story I was looking for, thanks!
    – Eugene
    Jun 20, 2021 at 10:35
  • Oh man, this is great. I was so sure that this theme was a Sturgeon short story that i searched all over. It's also good because I prefer Robert Silverberg. Jun 20, 2021 at 19:26
  • While it probably shouldn't be, the text of the story can be found on Unfit Magazine. Jun 21, 2021 at 11:17

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