This would have been in the 60s or 70s.

It was a story about a young man who invented a perpetual motion machine that could provide power for everyone. Knowing corporations or government would block him from giving it away, he went to college, cut his hair, and invented other things to get so rich he could have all the lawyers and be so powerful that ultimately he could give away the machine so that arid land could be irrigated/people fed/no pollution, etc.

But the young woman who loved him when he was young turned away from him when he went inside the system, not understanding or believing that he had not sold out. The very end had him looking back and comparing the lost love of his life with all the good he had done, that children didn't starve anymore and the rest and he knew he had made the right decision. Can anyone help me find that original story?

  • definitely rings a bell. will try to remember this one. – A.D Sep 27 '13 at 9:12

I believe you are seeking the story "Brownshoes" (also published as "The Man Who Learned Loving") by Theodore Sturgeon in 1969 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon

Description is as follows:

In that story, a young hippie was living an idyllic existence in a humble cabin with his hippie girl friend. They did all the back to the land things, had lots of fun, he would play his guitar lots, and in general had an easy and enjoyable life. Then one day while working in his workshop he did something funny and constructed a black box that put out more power than went into it. He realized he had accidentally discovered a source of essentially free and unlimited energy and broke into tears. The next day he said goodby to his girl friend, went into town, got a shave and haircut, went to the city and enrolled in an engineering program at a university, spent the requisite time getting a PhD in engineering, then built up a reputation as a brilliant engineer. Finally, he applied for a patent on his black box and started producing them at very low cost. Soon even the poorest and most destitute could own one, and with free energy could begin to live a life that no longer depended on unending toil and suffering. Years later he was driving his Mercedes through the old village where he’d lived as a hippie, stopped for coffee, and encountered the old girlfriend. She lit into him for selling out to get his fancy suit, big car, money, reputation, and so on when, as she put it, he could have had love.

  • It was in the Oct. 1969 (not 1968) F&SF. If Mike wants to read it without buying that pricey hardback, there are various options – user14111 Sep 29 '13 at 21:13
  • @user14111, thanks for the correction. I have updated in the answer. – beichst Sep 30 '13 at 11:07
  • Thanks to you both, that is exactly the story I was looking for. Sorry for the years of delay. I was leaving Afghanistan about the time I posted that question and it all got lost in the shuffle. – Mike Nov 17 '18 at 22:39
  • Thank you for your service. Glad we could help with finding this for you. – beichst Nov 18 '18 at 1:46

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