8

I'm pretty sure this was in an anthology of older stories that I read in a paperback in the 90s, although the book may have dated from when my parents were growing up in the 60s and the 70s. The protagonist is a country boy who goes into town. There a sort of a Coney Island setup with booths and items for sale. I remember there were prostitutes named something like "pork-upines" with vaginal openings scattered all over their bodies as well as a shooting gallery where you practiced on live targets, although I'm not entirely certain if they were robots of some sort, or genetically modified. The protagonist is horrified at the excesses of the city, but samples the wares of one of the prostitutes, falls in love with her, and buys her freedom.

Somehow, in the course of the story, he becomes disillusioned and he arranges for her to be a target at one of the shooting galleries. The story ends with him aiming his rifle at her.

I know it's a very vague description, but I'm hoping those salient points strike a memory in someone. It was in English. I read it while in the United States somewhere in the 90s, and I'm pretty sure it was one one story in an older paperback, the sort with the cheap paper that browns with age. It's also possible that it's one of the shooting gallery targets he purchases, although I'm pretty sure it was one of the prostitutes.

  • I got details wrong. There were no prostitutes named "pork-upines" I must have gotten that elsewhere. – FuzzyBoots Mar 2 '15 at 20:26
  • Side note, the "porcupines" are apparently from Mallworld by Somtow Sucharitkul where they are a feature of Copuland. That book was the answer to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/60120/… – FuzzyBoots Nov 19 '17 at 23:29
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"Pilgrimage to Earth" aka "Love, Incorporated", a short story by Robert Sheckley, first published in Playboy, September 1956; reprinted in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1957, available at the Internet Archive.

The protagonist is a country boy who goes into town.

Alfred Simon was born on Kazanga IV, a small agricultural planet near Arcturus, and there he drove a combine through the wheat fields, and in the long, hushed evenings listened to the recorded love songs of Earth.

[. . .]

At last he came to Earth, where dreams must come true, for there is a law against their failure.

There a sort of a Coney Island setup with booths and items for sale. I remember there were prostitutes named something like "pork-upines" with vaginal openings scattered all over their bodies

No, there's nothing like that in "Pilgrimage to Earth".

as well as a shooting gallery where you practiced on live targets, although I'm not entirely certain if they were robots of some sort, or genetically modified.

Simon walked over and saw that, instead of the usual targets, there were four scantily dressed women at the end of the gallery, seated upon bullet-scored chairs. They had tiny bulls-eyes painted on their foreheads and above each breast.

"But do you fire real bullets?" Simon asked.
"Of course!" the manager said. "There's a law against false advertising on Earth,. Real bullets and real gals! Step up and knock one off!"

One of the women called out, "Cone on, sport! Bet you miss me!"

Another screamed, "He couldn't hit the broad side of a spaceship!"

"Sure he can!" another shouted. "Come on, sport!"

Well, that part seems to match. Any chance you could be mixing up two stories?

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