Tuesday, February 14, 2012

L Sprague de Camp's "The Guided Man" (novelette, humor): Call center to help the socially awkward

I seem to be picking up stories with risque elements lately. This one has nudism & a contest to select the bustiest woman. Another one I recently read - Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" - requires everyone in the US to be nude when in public, by a Presidential decree!

This also is probably the oldest story I've seen so far with chip implants. It also has wireless 2-way communications at city-size distances & short range wireless communications akin to bluetooth.
PS: Puppet Masters too has aliens whose memory works in ways similar to modern electronic devices! But more on Puppet Masters some other time.

Story summary.

Say you are one of those people uncomfortable in certain social situations. Like during job interviews, or when talking to a girl you find attractive. Now here is a call center service just for you.

They'll plant a chip in your head. And they'll give you a little device with a button that goes in your pant pocket. When you press the button, the chip in your head allows a call center agent to take over your head: you're aware of everything, but your body language, speech, body movements, etc are controlled by the agent. To regain control, press the switch again. Before the event, brief your agent about it & give him the time, so he'll be prepared.

This is a funny story of a man who hires the call center services to get a job, & to get help impressing the girl he's mooning. Only the call center agent assigned himself gets interested in the girl...

See also.

  1. Mary Shelley's "Transformation" (download): Hero (in good faith!) exchanges his body with an evil magician, only the magician now gets interested in hero's girlfriend.

Collected in.

  1. "The Best of L Sprague de Camp".

Fact sheet.

First published: Startling Stories, October 1952.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of L Sprague de Camp.