Steve Allen. The Public Hating. (The Blue Book Magazine, January 1955)

Read in Judith Merril’s The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1956.

A short look at a bleak dystopian future. It’s September 9th, 1978, the Government have thrown open the doors of Yankee Stadium free of charge, and the place is packed. It’s not for a baseball match though, but for a ‘public hating’. For in Allen’s future, convicted criminals can be placed in the centre of the stadium, and through sheer force of willpower, the minds of those spectating can carry out the capital punishment the court has ordered.

It’s grim stuff for the protagonist, a first time observer from another country, as an academic, guilty of treason (the story was written just as McCarthyism was finally denounced) is summarily executed.

Imagine, a sports stadium full of hateful people, encouraged to be hateful, by the government. Sheer fantasy of course.

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