This was a short story I read in the 80's but I think it was written earlier than this. It was about a man who was hit by a bus and thrown through a shop window. When he became aware he was in the future. A future where interactive games had become so addictive that society was in collapse, people not working, litter everywhere and buildings decaying. Also, to keep prisoners compliant they were plugged into top of the range virtual worlds via direct neural interface. The main character is judged as insane as he tells them about his time travel and the story ends with him plugged into a virtual Wild West scenario as a cowboy.

2 Answers 2


I concur with alg's answer in both the ID and the differences in cited details. Here's how "Spectator Sport" starts:

"Dr. Rufus Maddon was not generally considered to be an impatient man - or addicted to physical violence.

But when the tenth man he tried to stop on the street brushed by him with a mutter of annoyance Rufus Maddon grabbed the eleventh man, swung him around and held him with his shoulders against a crumbling wall.

He said, 'You will listen to me, sir! I am the first man to travel into the future and I will not stand --'"

The original poster mentions litter everywhere and buildings decaying. In the story:

"Once again he continued his aimless walk down the streets of the familiar city. There was a general air of disrepair. Shops were boarded up. The pavement was broken and potholed. A few automobiles traveled on the broken streets. They, at least, appeared to be of a slightly advanced design but they were dented, dirty, and noisy."

The poster also mentions direct neural interfaces for virtual worlds:

"Permanent was so much better than the temp stuff you could get on the home sets. The nerve ends was what did it, of course."

Also, describing being "hooked up":

"They rolled him over on his side, made the usual incision at the back of his neck, carefully slit the main motor nerves, leaving the senses, the heart and lungs intact. They checked the air conditioning and plugged him into the feeding schedule for that bank of Perms.

Next they swung the handrods and the footplates into position, gave him injections of local anesthetic, expertly flayed the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, painted the raw flesh with the sticky nerve graft and held his hands closed around the rods, his feet against the plates until they adhered in the proper position."

The poster mentions that the protagonist is judged insane as he tells the people in the future about his time travel. This is not directly related but is referred to:

"Cramer, deputy chief of LD, sauntered in and said, 'The guy was really off. He was yammering about being from the past and not to destroy his mind.'"


"'Blast it, Al,' Handriss said, 'why couldn't your people have been more careful! He looks as if he might have been intelligent.'

Al shrugged. 'Do they come here from the past every couple of minutes? He didn't look any different than any other lobey to me.'"

Finally, the Wild West scenario at the end:

"Inside the cubicle, Dr. Rufus Maddon was riding slowly down the steep trail from the mesa to the cattle town on the plains. He was trail-weary an sun-blackened. There was an old score to settle. Feeney was about to foreclose on Mary Ann's spread and Buck Hoskie, Mary Ann's crooked foreman, had threatened to shoot on sight.

Rufus Maddon wiped the sweat from his forehead on the back of a lean hard brown hero's hand."

As alg points out, it is not being hit by a bus that throws Maddon into the future; he travels there on purpose. Also, the VR was not in the form of interactive games but more like movies. Finally, people were not prisoners but actually saved up their whole lives for the "Perm" hookup; it was a voluntary thing. The poster may be misremembering or mixing in details from another story.


If it's possible that the injury happened after the protagonist's arrival in the future rather than precipitating it, then this is "Spectator Sport", by John D. MacDonald, first published in the February 1950 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. I read it in "Science Fiction Stories", edited by Tom Boardman Jr. and first published in 1979; it's been included in a few other anthologies too. The ISFDB lists them here.

Google Books includes a couple of pages from it in its preview of "50 Short Science Fiction Tales": here's a link.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.