I'm trying to find a story from the 40s or 50s, where a futuristic device was delivered to the protagonist's apartment (by a tech from the future).

The protagonist tries to figure out the device, and eventually figures out that it's a sort of mind control device, designed to ensure that every citizen only has "approved" thoughts.

I had thought it was "The Twonky", but the copies online don't match my recollections.

Specifically, it had the idea that "It doesn't matter what people think, as long as they all think the same."

"The Twonky" doesn't have this idea in it.

I believe that it was written by William Tenn, but I'm not at all sure.

  • Another package-from-the-future story is "Thing of Beauty" by Knight, but it isn't a mind controller. scifi.stackexchange.com/a/267070/28516 Feb 3 at 5:12
  • "The Twonky" includes this passage: "Look at this logically. Imagine a civilization where a gadget like that has its place. Use inductive reasoning." "I’m trying to. I can’t think very well. Fitz, I’m worried about Kerry." "I’m all right," Kerry said. Fitzgerald put his fingertips together. "It isn’t a radio so much as a monitor. In this other civilization, perhaps every man has one, or maybe only a few—the ones who need it. It keeps them in line." "By destroying initiative?""
    – Andrew
    Feb 4 at 0:31
  • It really sounds like The Twonky, Can you recall why you think it is different? Plot details, etc?
    – user108131
    Feb 5 at 10:51
  • 1
    This reminds me of the Service Call short story by P. K. Dick. It also deals with a weirdly named device (called "swibble") from future that is apparently used to mind control the population. Only it is a "swibble" repairman who arrives from the future to the protagonist's home, not the device itself.
    – vogrick
    Feb 5 at 21:47
  • Updated question to clarify why I don't think "The Twonky" is the story I'm thinking of.
    – Eric Brown
    Feb 6 at 18:24


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