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I read this story in elementary school in the 1970s.

The story is about a girl who lives in a society where no one walks. They live in cars or modules which drive around in an endless circle. All plant life has been paved over with concrete but she notices a tree growing up through the concrete and tries to rescue it before giant machines come and cut it down. She struggles to get to it because her legs won't work after being confined to her module for so long. I can't remember the title of it. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Thanks!

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Was this in a book you got from the library or a school (text) book? Do you recall the cover or any of the other stories in the book?
    – DavidW
    Dec 14, 2023 at 19:56
  • The grandaddy of all such stories is "The Revolt of the Pedestrians" (1928) by David Keller.
    – Spencer
    Dec 15, 2023 at 0:01

1 Answer 1

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Is this The Endless Pavement (1973) by Jacqueline Jackson and William Perlmutter...?

It was originally published as a 50-page chapbook with mostly black & white illustrations by Richard Cuffari.

From Goodreads:

Living in a time when people are the servants of automobiles and ruled by the master auto of the planet, Josette longs to leave her rollabout and try her legs.

Cover of "The Endless Pavement", showing a black-and-white picture of a girl in a vehicle, looking up at a colored red apple in a green tree.

The story is set in a future society controlled by a master computer where the world has been paved over, traditional buildings have been torn down and replaced by mobile buildings on wheels, and everyone is bolted into small, roofless cars called rollabouts. The idea that anyone ever walked around using their legs is a curiosity to these people.

The protagonist is a young girl named Josette (depicted in her rollabout on the cover above) who one days spots a small apple tree with a single red apple hanging from its short branches. She climbs out of her rollabout in order to pick the apple, but since she isn't used to using her legs, she initially has to drag herself along the ground using her arms.

Mother spoke from behind the wheel. "There used to be a Great Person, I think. His name was Detroit—and he made the first autos. Before that there were no autos."
"No autos! Josette was astonished. "But what rolled on the endless pavement?"
"There was no endless pavement," said Father.
No pavement! "Then what did Home-a-rollas and School-a-rollas run on?"
"They all stood still."
"Still!" cried Josette. She could hardly imagine it. All her life, except for a few seconds here and there she had rolled on wheels so that the very thought of standing still made her stomach lurch. "But how did people move?"
"They used their legs—first one and then the other. It was called walking. But after a while they grew weary of this and so they invented autos and pavement for the autos to roll smoothly on. The autos made life so very pleasant that they built more and more of them. They cleared the land and tore down buildings to lay more pavement. And then they learned to make an auto with a wire cy—cy—cybernetic brain so that it could do all the things that people did—only better. After that, the Great Computer-mobile whose electronic dashboard controls everything that moves took over all the thinking. It was its idea to keep only enough people for maintenance, to put everyone in a rollabout and every family in a Home-a-rolla, since wheels are so much better, and to put Home-a-rollas in slow-speed lanes for our protection. Then—so that the great autos could go everywhere where it is necessary for them to go, the Great Computer-mobile bulldozed all the trees and covered the remaining grass with pavement."

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