Frederik Pohl’s “Day Million”

Frederik Pohl’s short story, “Day Million,” is a mix between Jeffrey Eugenidies’ Middlesex, Greg Egan’s Diaspora, and the Wachowski Brother’s The Matrix. Actually, you can get a feel for this from the story’s hilarious opening paragraph:

On this day I want to tell you about, which will be about a thousand years from now, there were a boy, a girl and a love story.

Now although I haven’t said much so far, none of it is true. The boy was not what you and I would normally think of as a boy, because he was a hundred and eighty-seven years old. Nor was the girl a girl, for other reasons; and the love story did not entail that sublimation of the urge to rape and concurrent postponement of the instinct to submit which we at present understand in such matters. You won’t care much for this story if you don’t grasp these facts at once. If, however, you will make the effort, you’ll likely enough find it jampacked, chockfull and tiptop-crammed with laughter, tears and poignant sentiment which may, or may not, be worth while. The reason the girl was not a girl was that she was a boy.

Pohl’s 1966 story is about far future designer sex assignment in utero, recording one’s self digitally, and interaction with virtual identities. It’s a fun, tiny story that I highly recommend for it’s forward thinking ideas that puts not only his imagined future cultural norms on display, but also our own, which is evidenced by the final paragraph:

Balls, you say, it looks crazy to me. And you–with your after-shave lotion and your little red car, pushing papers across a desk all day and chasing tail all night–tell me, just how the hell do you think you would look to Tiglath-Pileser, say, or Attila the Hun?

I found Pohl’s story in The Norton Book of Science Fiction.

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