The Toynbee Convector

I first read this collection of short stories in 1992. It includes a reprint of the 1983 story that appeared in the January 1984 issue of “Playboy.” It has twenty-two other stories. The majority are reprints from magazine articles. I nominate the short story of “The Toynbee Convector” for the best fantasy/science fiction story ever written. It is as good as Bradbury’s story from his 1951 book the “Illustrated Man – “The Veldt”. It is that good. Here is the story plot/summary. The story’s protagonist claims to have returned from the future. He has tapes and films of a miraculous technological wonderland. Humankind has solved all its major problems – no cancer, no world hunger, etc. This energizes the world with confidence. People believe that their dreams will come true. They proceed to build that future. They have no idea it is all a lie. The lie pictures a wondrous future. It describes this future in breath-taking detail. There is almost an action plan with hints as to how to get there. The world’s brain trust of scientists, economists, and politicians take the clues and make this future a reality. It comes the day when we are at the time and place where he is to appear from the past in the created future. A major deflection occurs. You have to read the story for the conclusion. It is worth reading. While the other stories in the collection are good and “worth the read,” none match the opening story.

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