I'm trying to recall a novel or short story.

A worldwide computer runs the world and tends to man's needs. The main directive of its program is to make man happy and secure. It achieves the goal by reducing intelligence, dumbing down the human brain to the point where man regresses to childhood, infancy, and finally coma (ignorance is bliss).

Those who have regressed to a vegetative state are referred to as "musselmen".

  • Any idea when it was written or when you read it? – Null Jun 22 '15 at 18:23
  • 1
    I think the spelling you are looking for is muselmann (it is a derogatory German term that refers to a person suffering from disease and exhaustion). – Gavin42 Jun 22 '15 at 18:26
  • It must have been written in the 1970's .. and I think the term 'Musselmen' was derived from them being shrouded or wrapped in swaddling, reminiscent of Bedouin garb, I'm not certain though - it's been a long time. – Chuck Jun 22 '15 at 18:35

This is "The Happy Breed" by John T. Sladek.

Machines take over the world and take over people's lives:

Nor were they limited to treat. The Machines had extensions clawing through the jungles of the world, spying on witch doctors and learning new medicines. Drug and dietary research became their domain, as did scientific farming and birth control. By 1985, when it became manifest that Machines could and did run everything better, and that nearly everyone in the country wanted to be a patient, the U.S. Government capitulated. Other nations followed suit.    By now, no one worked at all, so far as James knew. They had one and only one duty—to be happy.

Eventually the machines simply drug people into a state of comatose euphoria:

Looking out the window, he saw a bright pink- and yellow-striped ambulance. So, the doctor next door was going off to a zombie-land, was he? Or, correctly, to the Hospital for the Asocial. In the East, they called them “Mussulmen”; here, “zombies,” but it all came to the same thing: the living dead who needed no elaborate houses, games, ink. They needed only intravenous nourishment, and little of that. The drapes drew themselves, so Wattleigh knew the doctor was being carried out then. He finished his interrupted thought.

| improve this answer | |
  • That has to be the one, I'm sure I must have read it in "Dangerous Visions" -- Thanks!! – Chuck Jun 22 '15 at 18:54
  • 7
    Wow. That's creepy. – Oliphaunt - reinstate Monica Jun 22 '15 at 19:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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