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Leiber, Fritz – “The Big Holiday” (1953)

06/18/2013

In which the titular holiday is a 3-day affair in which people in a village in the future are chosen to dress up as various vices and foibles to be banished (Success, Glamour, Hurry and Worry, etc) or virtues to be welcomed (Friendship, Love, Laziness, Fun, Joy). I expected a Shirley Jackson-style twist but no, it was all very straightforward and sunny. This utopia is in sharp contrast to the present day, made clear via a “comically” poorly written student paper that the local teacher is grading at the beginning of the holiday: “In the olden times of the 20th Century, people didnt injoy holidays very much. They worred too much about making money and buying and selling. They even tried to sell each other, like in the very faroff times of slavery…” The teacher, with no small amount of exasperation, notes that this last was an idiom meaning to convince someone of worth, nothing to do with slavery, before dressing up as a “hussy” to portray Glamour in the parade. Later, during the holiday, one man is busted for talking about the climbing worth of Amalgamated Planetoid shares (“Caught you talking news, Mr. Goldfarb! Next you’ll be reading inch-thick newspapers, like the ancients did to pass away holidays”) and is forced to wear his hat upside down for the remainder of the celebration.

The occasional science-fictional set-dressing is tossed in (references to towns on Mars, instantly-cooking electronic ovens, etc), but really, you might as well be watching Christmas with the Kranks or something. I suppose it does balance out the previous story’s final note, though.

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From → Earth, Future

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