“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” Kurt Vonnegut, 1954 — Gramps is a tyrant, disinheriting relatives over and over on a whim, and his relatives anxiously wait for him to die in order to inherit his wealth and space. Life in this overpopulated future is harsh–cramped, depleted, reduced to television viewing–for all except the wealthy. His relatives plot to dilute his Anti-Gersone, the drug keeping him alive, but Gramps outwits them by appearing to commit suicide. The heirs fight over the right to his bedroom, and the crowd soon becomes a televised riot, to the delight of the viewing public. At the conclusion, Gramps–now revealed to be a bit of a modern Volpone, though with hundreds of children rather than none–has the pleasure of watching as his greedy relatives are convicted of rioting. He’s full of hope and wonder for the future; the new drug, Super Anti-g, which will not only extend his life but restore the appearance of youth.
Wikipedia: “The story is set in 2158 A.D., after the discovery of a drug called Anti-Gerasone, a mixture of mud and dandelions which halts the aging process. Anti-Gerasone allows people to unnaturally control when death from old age occurs. Due to the discovery of this drug, America suffers from over-population. This over-population has led to shortages of many materials, including metals, gasoline, and desirable food. Many, outside of the very wealthy, appear to survive by a diet of processed seaweed and sawdust.”
Comments: Read in Connoisseur’s Science Fiction. Title quotes Hamlet. Scenario in which elderly are privileged over the young.
Author: Wikipedia: “Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was a 20th-century American writer. His works such as Cat’s Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical leftist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.”