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The story was set in utopian future, post-scarcity setting. A man, living on a island (?), starts ordering more and more products of all sorts. While it wasn't a huge issue, it eventually drew attention as to why he was doing it. If I remember correctly, the conclusion was the this man was "a relic of the previous age" - the age when first factories started overproducing and people were forced to consume all the products that came out. This age was already over, people were consuming what they wanted, but this man for some reason went back to old habits. I think they eventually decided to let him be as he is, since that was easier than trying to rehabilitate him.

It was a part of a book containing multiple short stories, each showing an event of growing civilisation. They were separated by several years each. Short story previous to the one I remember most might have been about the overproduction era, I'm not sure.

I thought it may have been Asimov's, but I couldn't find anything matching. I read it in Polish translation 10-15 years ago, but it was older than that.

Any ideas what could that be? It's been bugging me for a long time.

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  • Plot twist: that wasn't the future, baby. It was 2020.
    – smci
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 21:38
  • The title make me think this was Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants/Merchants' War/Venus Inc., but that's clearly not the answer now that I see the actual question. Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 23:54

1 Answer 1

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I think this is one of the stories in Frederik Pohl's collection Midas World. Looks like "The Man Who Ate The World" fits the description. From Wikipedia:

Anderson Trumie had a scarring experience in his childhood, before Morey Fry changed the world. All Anderson wanted was a teddy bear, but his parents' lifestyle of frantic consumption did not allow him to have one. As an adult, he is a compulsive consumer. He has taken over North Guardian Island and is putting a burden on the local infrastructure. A psychist, Roger Garrick, with the help of Kathryn Pender, finds a way to heal Anderson and end his exorbitant consumption.

You can read the story here.

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    Ninja'd! I just pulled out the book to write an answer. I agree this is it, well done. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 12:53
  • 2
    TBH I hadn't come across the book before, I recognised the setting from The Midas Plague which I'd read elsewhere and wondered if Pohl had written any other stories with that theme. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:16
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    That's it, thank you! I did come across The Midas Plague while searching, but it didn't strike me to search for other works of the author. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 14:39

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