“Pilgrimage to Earth” (original title, “Love, Inc.”), Robert Sheckley, 1956 – A country boy visits the city of our future. He finds that everything can be sold, he can shoot people for fun, and women can be programmed with false memories so that they love him for a night.
Comments: Anticipates the figure of the programmable sex slave (see cyberpunk, television’s Dollhouse, etc.).
Summary at Strange Horizons, along with other summaries of Sheckley’s fiction: “The theme of cultural clashes and misunderstandings receives a bleaker treatment in “Pilgrimage to Earth”. Alfred Simon, born and raised on a quiet agricultural planet, yearns to visit Earth, where “everything is possible”, and find love. He works and saves for years to afford the trip, but once he finally arrives on Earth he learns that it’s not what he expected (the poisoned paradise). He’s soon disillusioned when he stumbles across a shooting gallery, with live ammunition and live female targets. A naive outworlder on a cynical, jaded planet, Simon does find love — Love, Inc., which sells him the experience of a night of genuine love. Simon is brutally disappointed when he discovers that the experience was programmed, entirely a commodity, and in his rage he returns to the shooting gallery to vent his anger. The clash of cultures, the poisoned paradise, the ordinary man out of his environment all come together in this disturbing ending.”
Author: Wikipedia: “Robert Sheckley (July 16, 1928 – December 9, 2005) was a Hugo- and Nebula-nominated American author. First published in the science fiction magazines of the 1950s, his numerous quick-witted stories and novels were famously unpredictable, absurdist and broadly comical.”