FOUND : Spendthrift man pays society back as brainship

C10

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May 8, 2022
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I would be grateful for help locating this story from a collection read in the 1980s, possibly written 1970s.

Earth society has been reorganized so people are free to do whatever they like until ca. age 25, then do assigned jobs for the rest of their lives to keep the economy going. If they have been frugal while young, their work is easy; if heavily consuming, harder.

A young profligate lives high, taking all possible pleasure irrespective of incurred debt. When adulthood arrives, he owes society many lifetimes' worth of work. He sneeringly assumes that the debt cannot possibly be collected. He then wakes up to find that he has been incorporated into a brainship, already off on an interstellar voyage of (IIRC) 200,000 years' duration. The machinery will keep him alive and sane - no escape possible.

Can anyone here please identify? Thanks!
 

PaulMmn

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Anne McCaffrey wrote the brainship series. Each brainship was teamed with a human 'brawn' who did the things that required the mobility of a human.

I don't recall her ever writing about the economy as you describe it. Brainships (and towns, factories, and space stations) were populated by brains who had become encapsulated within their first few years of life, as their physical disabilities were recognized as untreatable. The brains did encur expenses-- the encapsulating itself, plus maintenance and care of their capsule, plus, in the case of brainships, part of (?or all?) the cost of the ship itself. So many of the 'brains' had a large debt to work off, but not due to lavish living until age 25.
 

C10

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Thank you, PaulMmm. I am familiar with McCaffrey's work, as well as several other authors' using the same plot device, back to Kuttner's "Camouflage" (1945) and Blish's "Solar Plexus" (1941). This was definitely not one of hers - different style, mood, twist ending. More like Niven's Becalmed In Hell, though darker.
 
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Richiehead

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Apr 9, 2012
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I've definitely read this - but have no idea of the author or title !
 

Hugh

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I've read this too so it must be fairly well known. Hopefully someone will come up with the answer soon to save me racking my remaining brain cell. I'd say definitely earlier than the 1980s.
 

C10

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Yes Yes Yes! Definitiely the story, despite my having mistaken key details. Very glad to have it back. (And I donate to Archive.org for their invaluable mission. Cheaper than finding everything on ISFDB and then having to buy the vintage magazine or book.)

Many thanks to Hugh and all.
 

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