A future Big-Brother society where people wore wristwatches which both monitored their movements and kept them informed about their role in society.

I don't remember whether the story was located on Earth or a fictional planet. The book was read late 60's or early 70's. I only read a small number of authors (max 10) so I would immediately recognise the author's name if the storyline was identified.

Possibilities: Brian Aldiss, Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. Le Guin, Theodore Sturgeon, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

What I'm thinking now is how uncannily like the Apple Watch and similar products this was. This is the only story I remember that foresaw the wireless/digital age.

  • The watch thing got me thinking about 'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro. but that was published in 2005...
    – Kwola-T
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 23:36
  • 1
    Well, it's not The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 23:56
  • I can rule out Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Sturgeon, and Clarke. Don't know the full works of the others you list. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 0:09
  • Pretty sure it's not Le Guin, either.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 0:24
  • Just like the "Android Wear" watches, this is directly from their webpage: "Android Wear organizes your information, suggests what you need, and shows it to you before you even ask" android.com/wear
    – Xen2050
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:45

3 Answers 3


''The Creature from Cleveland Depths'' was a short story by Fritz Leiber written in 1962. As noted in my comment above, an engineer devises a little clockwork/tape-based thing where a man can make notes and reminders, and the device would give the wearer a slight shock, a "tickle" when the time hit, reminding him to check his appointments. His friend, a marketer, stole the idea (which he was noted as doing often, something the protagonist cheerfully grumbled about) and released it, claiming his company had been working on it all the time. As time went on, the tickler was improved to also automatically remind a person to do routine chores, and to even inject drugs to help make them happier. By the end of the story, the engineer, who has refused the tickler, realizes that the ticklers have taken over.

One of the other odd details that stuck in my mind was that the marketing friend drops off a case of lifelike masks for the engineer, prior products of the company, and he and his wife have a brief bout of fun while she's wearing the face of a prominent actress.

  • Honestly, this one is a bit iffy since IIRC, the tickler was worn around the neck and shoulder, and the "keeping people in their place" didn't happen until pretty late in.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 2:55
  • This sounds similar to a short story from the 80's-90's which had a device that measured your risk of death and sent a subliminal signal to your brain. People wearing it would gradually change their lifestyle (a woman who used to drive sports cars deciding to buy a Volvo, etc.) . The main character, who's also one of the inventors, gets rid of his when he sees what it's doing to his friends.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 15:54

This sounds a lot like This Perfect Day by Ira Levin. People are considered 'members' of a worldwide family and every detail of their life is organized by Uni, a sort of megacomputer. Also there are only 4 male & female names that a person can have, in addition to an identification number that I think is engraved on a bracelet. The function of the bracelet is similar to a chip, preventing them from passing gates they're not supposed to pass, and other forms of control. The only forms of food are soft drinks and 'totalcakes'. Rings a bell ?


To me, this sounds somewhat similar to the story "Criminal in Utopia" by Mack Reynolds. (A google search for that title turns up at least one link to the text online, but it isn't clear whether this is legal or not, so the link is not included here.)

Edit. The story "Criminal in Utopia" was originally published in the October 1968 issue of Galaxy which is freely available at the Internet Archive.

  • :) Can you provide some details to support this being the right one?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 14:16
  • In fact I cannot. The only identifying feature of the requested story is the wristwatches that track movement and "kept them informed about their role in society". In Criminal In Utopia, wristwatch devices are used to communicate, can be used to track the wearer, and at one point the protagonist is informed via his "wristwatch device that he is under arrest and should turn himself in at the nearest police station (hah!). It may well not be the story that's being requested, but it is a story that has similarity in the identifying features. Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 16:34
  • No, indeed not. I have no questions about the legality of content on archive.org. Thank you for turning up a valid link to the story that I was suggesting. Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 21:02

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