Welcome to the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time: it's Part Three of my serialization of The Marching Morons by C M Kornbluth, a tale of a dystopian future that in reality seems to have arrived a lot sooner than the author predicted: the age of mass moronization. We're always happy to hear from Mark Steyn Club members who enjoy our radio adaptations, and our opening account of poor John Barlow in suspended animation among the students at the University of Chicago brought back a curio from the past for John Diebel, a First Month Founding Member from Michigan:
As a boy from southern Ohio your introduction to The Marching Morons triggered a long forgotten memory. Back in the late 20s an unknown black man was found dead in the little town of Sabina not far from my mother's hometown. A local funeral home embalmed him and put him on display in an outbuilding in hopes he would be identified when other efforts to identify him failed. He was given the moniker of Eugene until he could be identified, which he never was. He ended up being on display from 1929 through 1963 and was a popular tourist attraction, morbid as it may have been. Like in The Marching Morons Eugene became a popular target of fraternity pranks and did some unauthorized traveling to various venues as a result. Truth is stranger than fiction. Google Eugene and Sabina for more details and you will see what I mean. I assume that Eugene could have been an inspiration for the author.
Maybe so, John - although it's never a good idea to leave well-preserved corpses among students for too long. One thinks of dear old Jeremy Bentham at University College London, whose body has been known to attend College Council meetings (said attendance always recorded as "present but not voting") and whose head has wandered near (being used for a footie match in the quad) and far (left in a luggage locker at Aberdeen station) over the last two centuries.
In tonight's episode of The Marching Morons, John Barlow, restored to life in what he'd assumed to be an advanced society, slowly adjusts to the reality of a seriously incompetent future:
When his eyes again became accustomed to the moderate lighting of the lobby, he groped his way to a bench and opened the newspaper he had bought. It turned out to be The Racing Sheet, which afflicted him with a crushing sense of loss. The familiar boxed index in the lower left hand corner of the front page showed almost unbearably that Churchill Downs and Empire City were still in business—
Blinking back tears, he turned to the Past Performances at Churchill. They weren't using abbreviations any more, and the pages because of that were single-column instead of double. But it was all the same—or was it?
He squinted at the first race, a three-quarter-mile maiden claimer for thirteen hundred dollars. Incredibly, the track record was two minutes, ten and three-fifths seconds. Any beetle in his time could have knocked off the three-quarter in one-fifteen. It was the same for the other distances, much worse for route events.
What the hell had happened to everything?
Well, sometimes highly evolved societies evolve to the point that they start to go backwards. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here.
If you have friends who might appreciate The Marching Morons and our other Tales for Our Time, we have a special Steyn Club Gift Membership that lets them in on that and all the other fun in The Mark Steyn Club.
If you've only joined the Steyn Club in recent days and missed our earlier serials (Conan Doyle's The Tragedy of the Korosko, Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, plus Kipling, Kafka, Dickens, Gogol, Louisa May Alcott, Jack London, H G Wells, Scott Fitzgerald and more), you can find them all on our easy-to-access Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. Indeed, it's so easy to access that we've introduced a similar format for the audio editions of The Mark Steyn Show.
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To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and please join me tomorrow for Part Four of The Marching Morons.