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The Marching Morons

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  341 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Kornbluth's nickname, during his tragically short life, was "the Great Tale-Twister." He could take a common SF theme and stand it on its ear. Satirical, witty, startling - a delight to read lo these fifty years after his demise.

The Marching Morons;
The Luckiest Man in Denv;
The Silly Season;
Ms. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie;
The Only Thing We Learn
Paperback, F760, 160 pages
Published 1963 by Ballantine (first published 1959)
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Aug 10, 2010 Manny rated it really liked it
C.M. Kornbluth was a talented pulp SF writer, who came up with a remarkable number of good ideas during his short life. The title story is one of the best ones. Intelligence is largely inherited, reasons Kornbluth, and stupid people tend to have more children than smart people. Ergo, the average level of intelligence will decline over time. Moreover, stupid people tend to have children with stupid people, and smart people tend to have children with smart people. Corollary: the human race will di ...more
Rebecca Huston
This very dark, very prophetic tale of the future, where human intelligence has dropped to about 45, is one that I can recommend to those who like their science fiction on the grim side. John Barlow, a man from the twentieth century, is woken from a coma hundreds of years in the future. A good deal of history has been forgotten, and the intellectual elite are trying to cope with an ever growing problem -- the title of the book. I'll stop there, you'll find out if you decide to read this. It's no ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, scifi
This classic sci-fi novelette from the 1950s is fully as savage as Jonathan Swif's "A Modest Proposal" -- in which he recommends, tongue in cheek, that the Irish population problem could be solved by eating Irish babies. C M Kornbluth in The Marching Morons sees the whole world as inhabited by billions of retards in control of a few million people of normal or better intelligence.

Honest John Barlow is a creature from the past who was anesthetized for a dental operation using an experimental drug
Edmund Wight
Mar 22, 2016 Edmund Wight rated it liked it
Wow is Kornbluth a pessimist of the human condition... either that or he's been watching reality TV and the current political scene. Oh wait this was written in the 50s. He was a prophet.
The tale is that of a future world - we're not sure just how future. It's a bit like Idiocracy in that the idiots are the dominant part of the race. The intelligent people labor almost like slaves to keep things going. Basically the tale is an Ayn Rand tale where the 'prime movers' are more like slaves to their
Sep 11, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“You were blind, selfish stupid asses to tolerate economic and social conditions which penalized child-bearing by the prudent and foresighted. You made us what we are today, and I want you to know that we are far from satisfied.”

Cyril Kornbluth was a genius who learned to read at 3 and was writing his own stories by age 7. Had Karma not decreed that he drop dead at a train station at age 35, he might have been one of the greatest sci-fi authors of all time. The Marching Morons is the story of “H
A pretty repulsive book in many respects, but there were bits that were quite funny -- and which rang disturbingly true. I think that the author must have been very angry about "modern life" when he wrote this book -- back in the early 50s, I believe -- and there's a lot of resentment that shows through. It's a short book, a novella, set in a very far distant future, where the troubles of the world are blamed on decisions made by people in the 20th century.

I did love the contrast between the ope
Feb 13, 2009 Christian rated it it was amazing
Social satire that eerily resonates the denigration of our modern culture through technological advancement. The titular story inspired the Mike Judge film, IDIOCRACY, a movie shelved for a very long time because the studios deemed it "too stupid" for audiences. The main argument of THE MARCHING MORONS and IDIOCRACY by-proxy is that the people with sub-normal intelligence are outbreeding those of average-to-above-average intelligence, and that this trend has broad social implications. Mainly, th ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding short story about blind conformity, ambition turned to avarice, and most other modern day vices. Highly recommended!
Aug 27, 2014 Alex rated it liked it
the whole concepts of dysgenics. a good short sci fi and I liked how Idiocracy took the concept from the novel further
Bryan Clark
May 09, 2016 Bryan Clark rated it it was amazing
The movie Idiocracy was definitely based off of this short story. It was an interesting read.
Apr 03, 2013 P D rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(Got the single story, Kindle download)

The foreword mentions this story was rather controversial because of the comparisons to eugenics...but the author comes off as strongly against that attitude. There are some interesting nuances here, although the writing reads a bit slipshod by modern standards. It's got a similar premise to Idiocracy, but in this case there is a decent population of smart people, they're just stuck fixing the idiots' mistakes all the time. (Which does raise the question of
M Collins
Nov 11, 2014 M Collins rated it it was amazing
Nov 03, 2014 Gerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: futurians
In the distant future, 5 Billion moronic earthlings live in luxury while 3 Million intelligent earthlings make the enterprise work and are virtual slaves. Enter reanimated "current day" huckster "Honest" John Barlow who is told the planetary dilemma by one of the smart folks who asks him if he has a solution to the problem. Barlow has a solution to everything and anyone. Quick and something different. I really enjoyed it.
Scott Corbin
Apr 19, 2008 Scott Corbin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with a sense of irony
I remember running across this already 20 year old book about a future where the biggest catch phrase would you buy that for a dollar?, and thinking that it's almost that bad. Now popular culture has exceeded the vapidity Pohl imagined. I've got to borrow this from the library soon. I couple of his stories in various collections, along with F. Pohl, got me in a trap of reading only Sci-Fi for at least 8 years.
Jeremiah Johnson
Oct 02, 2013 Jeremiah Johnson rated it really liked it
I really liked this story about the possible future if we continue to dumb down society. I am a big fan of anything that doesn't have a happy ending, and this certainly didn't disappoint there.
It is easy to see that Idiocracy was inspired by this short. If only stupid people would become aware of these potential problems and stop breeding...
Jul 14, 2014 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, and written the slightly stilted tone of early SF and much better for it. Both stupidity and intelligence displayed where you would not expect it, along with an ending I should have seen coming, but did not. A classic, and I am now trying to remember if I had read it before, or just heard about it.
Dec 25, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing
A chilling but important story. I remember reading this years ago. This is what happens when the intelligent producers of everything used are overrun by the morons who demand to use them. "Would you buy it for a quarter? Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

It is not a pleasant outcome but an important warning.
Jul 10, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
Great book, and especially profound for something written in the 50's. The juxtaposition of Hitler and the saleman is brilliant and daring considering that the war had not been over long.

And it espouses Green Day's sentiments about 60 years early. "Only stupid people are breeding."
Aaron K
Apr 05, 2013 Aaron K rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Not the usual style or genre I am used to reading. It reminds me of the movie Idiocracy (I'm assuming the movie was based off this), which I loved, but the flow of the story didn't work for me too much. I may have another read, as it is a short novella.
Mark C
Oct 09, 2013 Mark C rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An almost identical setup to the movie IDIOCRACY ( - which was likely inspired by this story - this is no comedy. Or even good satire. It's really a reprehensible meditation on an "ultimate solution".
Written with all the subtlety of a kick to the head, full of classism, and elitism and sexist even for the time it was written.

Influential book for understanding the genre but not an enjoyable read.
Cheryl Lindstrom
Apr 30, 2016 Cheryl Lindstrom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An good read

A nice little short story that became the basis for the movie Idiocracy. About a dystopian future caused by the failure of smart people to breed.
May 26, 2011 Steve rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
I've been meaning to read this for some time. A big disappointment from what I expected, but the general idea of a shrinking gene pool is certainly still a great idea for a novel.
Apr 14, 2013 Pavel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short. Close resemblance to Idiocracy, but more twisted.
Mark Leone
Odd but interesting concept of a potential future
Apr 05, 2013 Tanya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, sci-fi
Really short, but a great story
Harry Dewulf
Aug 26, 2011 Harry Dewulf rated it it was amazing
A must-read if you are alive in 2011.
Sam Bauman
Feb 19, 2013 Sam Bauman rated it really liked it
Fun short scifi.
Roundwater marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2016
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Goodreads Librari...: B005QQO9SM 3 89 May 20, 2013 03:06AM  
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Cyril M. Kornbluth was born and grew up in Inwood in New York City. As a teenager, he became a member of the Futurians, the influential group of science fiction fans and writers. While a member of the Futurians, he met and became friends with Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Donald A. Wollheim, Robert A. W. Lowndes, and his future wife Mary Byers. He also participated in the Fantasy Amateur Press Asso ...more
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