I'm trying to locate a short story I read 30 years ago about a public relations guy who is hired to help the government develop a program to reduce the population. He comes up with several ideas promoting sterility, suicide, etc. but the program works a little too well & things spiral out of control with mass suicides, death-cults & the like. In the end he's left with the last group of people on earth who are counting on him to mate with the last females to repopulate the earth. I remember the last line of the story was:

"I don't have the heart to tell them I'm sterile".

I also remember that the President of the USA now dresses up like Uncle Sam.

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    Hmm. Makes me think of a story (I THINK by Fredric Brown) involving a screw up where an advertiser (Funeral Home, or Coffin sales, or something similar) got too big of a budget (like via a transposed decimal), and was too successful advertising coffins. Ends with an old man come down from the mountains, seeing the results, and looking at his mule, with a comment to the effect of 'Guess we have to try again.. Hope they don't favor your side of the family as much, next time.' Not your story, tho.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 23:30
  • Read this and immediately thought JG Ballard for some reason. But it's definitely not one of his 2 shorts usually cited in lists of overpopulation fiction (Billenium and Concentration City).
    – timday
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 20:33
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    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


It might be Sales of a Deathman by Robert Bloch

It can be read on archive.org


What to do with the population problem? Killing people's so messy — unless they'll help!


We've got the posters up — everything from "Join the Marine Corpse" to "Uncle Sam DOESN'T Want You!" And there's a big publicity campaign for the development of Death Valley National Monument.


The president put it right on the line. (Funny thing, he really looks like Uncle Sam now, even without makeup).

“We’re got to repopulate,” he said. “Start all over again from the beginning.” He looked at me.

“You’re our only hope. You and the girl.”

I nodded. So did she.

So tonight they’re setting the two of us up in a living unit of our own. Regular honeymoon suite. From now on, it’s up to me.

The ending line is not the same, though:

Too bad. I just don’t think I’m going to make it. I’ve come to the conclusion Thoreau was right. In times like these, one must seek the peaceful serenity of Walden Pond.


I think I’ll go there tonight. And drown myself.

  • That's gotta be it! Although the ending is different from my recollection, the plot line & details of the story match exactly. Takes me waaaay back! Thanks so much! And here is a better link to the story: archive.org/stream/Galaxy_v26n03_1968-02_modified#page/n47/mode/…
    – Stormn
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 17:41
  • @stormn thank you, I updated the link
    – Ayshe
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 1:28

This sounds a little like "The Marching Morons" by C.M. Kornbluth. However, the solution in TMM was to get everyone to visit another planet (Venus?).

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    Sounds like an appropriate title.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 0:17
  • This isn't "The Marching Morons". That story is about (the phrase "That story is about" means SPOILERS) a scammer from the past, not a PR person.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 13:19

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