I am trying to locate a sci fi story, probably written in the 50's, most likely by Bradbury or Heinlein, about a dissatisfied boy who breaks the rules in a future society where no one goes outside anymore because technology has eliminated the need to do so. Any ideas?

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    You need to tell us more about the story.
    – user14111
    Mar 16, 2015 at 19:53
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    Was it a short story? What kind of tech eliminated need to go outside? Telecommunications? Matter transmitters? What is the penalty for going outside? Death? Shunning? What happens to the boy? Does the technology break down?
    – user14111
    Mar 16, 2015 at 19:58
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    'It's Such A Beautiful Day' by Asimov? "Set in the year 2117, the story presents District A-3, a newly built suburb of San Francisco, and the world's first community to be built entirely using Doors, a method of travel via teleportation.When the Door that transfers him from home to school fails, Richard "Dickie" Hanshaw takes a dislike to the method and starts to wander outside in the unfamiliar open, exposed to the elements.
    – sueelleker
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:31
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    "The Machine Stops" by Forster?
    – user14111
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:32
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    It's a common theme. There are many stories about a future where nobody goes outside. You need to tell us more. Is that outside as in outside a room, outside the house, outside a domed city? Do people stay where they are or teleport? Do people visit each other at all? Is it a short story or a novel? What else do you remember about the plot?
    – user56
    Mar 16, 2015 at 21:24

5 Answers 5


This sounds somewhat like the short story "It's Such a Beautiful Day" by Isaac Asimov. Read online at the Open Library in Nightfall and other stories published 1969.

  • This is what first came to my mind too.
    – ZAD-Man
    Mar 16, 2015 at 23:45
  • The synopsis in Jenkins’ Spoiler-Laden Guide to Isaac Asimov may help the OP decide whether this is the story he was thinking: asimovreviews.net/Stories/Story130.html
    – b_jonas
    Mar 17, 2015 at 10:40

Arthur C. Clarke's story The City and the Stars also comes to mind. Do you have any more details about what may have happened in the story?

Brief synopsis of 'The City and the Stars': Story is set 1 billion years in the future on Earth - specifically in the city of Diaspar - which is fully enclosed. No one in millions of years has arrived or left from this city.

A boy (Alvin) is born and is a bit unusual in that he feels compelled to try to leave the city. Eventually he does and finds other humans on the planet.

Alvin continues to try to find out why the inhabitants of Diaspar are so afraid of leaving their city...

There is much much more to the story - i recommend reading it. One of my favourites!


Well, not a boy, but there is "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury, first published in 1951.

In the year 2053 A.D, Leonard Mead likes to take long walks at night, something which no one else does. Everyone stays indoors watching TV. On one of his usual walks he encounters a police car which is possibly robotic. It is the only police unit in a city of three million, since the purpose of law enforcement has disappeared with everyone watching TV at night. Mead tells the car that he is a writer when asked about his profession, but the car does not understand, since no one buys books or magazines in the television-dominated society. The police car or its occupants struggle to understand why Mead would be out walking for no reason and so decides to take him to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies. He is forced to get in the car. As the car passes through his neighborhood, Leonard Mead in the locked confines of the backseat says, "That's my house". There is no reply.

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    "the car does not understand, since no one buys books or magazines in the television-dominated society" - I just had a fridge logic moment - this suggests that society is completely dominated by reality TV - scripted TV shows have writers.
    – Random832
    Mar 17, 2015 at 15:26

I think I remember a story like this... It might be The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster:

The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge. The two main characters, Vashti and her son Kuno, live on opposite sides of the world. Vashti is content with her life, which, like most inhabitants of the world, she spends producing and endlessly discussing secondhand 'ideas'. Kuno, however, is a sensualist and a rebel. He persuades a reluctant Vashti to endure the journey (and the resultant unwelcome personal interaction) to his cell.

Full story here


It's Such A Beautiful Day seems by far the likeliest.

The boy's mother is deeply humiliated when he catches a cold after going outside in the rain (disease is almost unknown now) and is inclined to accept his schoolteacher's advice to have him treated with a psychic probe. The boy's psychiatrist is vehemently opposed to this, and it is strongly hinted (though not flatly stated) that he himself was once "treated" in that way for a similar "disorder". In the last sentence, the psychiatrist himself decides to walk home because "it's such a beautiful day".

  • I recall no hints that the psychatrist had ever been probed. He is opposed to it because it is the pop "cure" of the day, and people ask for it to be used for things it isn't intended for.
    – JRE
    Apr 2, 2019 at 8:20
  • That is indeed the main reason, but he seems to be very emotional about it. "He did not hear her because he was thinking of the Door and the psychic probe and all the rising choking tide of machinery." To me at least it seem there's more than a professional opinion involved - something more personal. But I'll grant you that could be just me.
    – Mike Stone
    Apr 2, 2019 at 8:40

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