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´╗┐Title: Sales Talk
Author: Blomberg, Con
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sales Talk" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

                              Sales Talk

                            BY CON BLOMBERG

                         Illustrated by MORROW

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                 Galaxy Science Fiction December 1959.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

            To live different and exciting lives, all I had
             to do was sign here--and give up my own life!

Looking out the window, I saw them crossing the court toward the
building--two of them. One, the taller with yellow hair, was carrying a
flat, expensive briefcase, and the other, of course, was carrying the
large square box that contained the Sim.

The buzzer sounded, announcing them at the door, and I opened it with
mixed feelings. I wasn't sure myself how I would act and--well, you
hear so many stories about EL, and this was really my first contact
with them.

They were standing out in front, looking just like a couple of
door-to-door salesmen. And that's just what they were, even if they
were called Electro Medical Consultants. Just a fancy name for salesmen.

They were very neat in appearance, just as good salesmen should be.
Their hats looked new and so did their shoes.

"Ah, Mr. Gaines," said the yellow-haired one, sticking out his neatly
manicured but definitely masculine hand, "I'm very happy to meet you,
sir." His grin could only be described as sincerely boyish.

"Come in," I said, feeling like smiling back, so effectively pleasant
were their grins. "Come in and sit down, won't you?"

So they came in, doffing their hats, and sat down in two chairs that I
ordinarily didn't use. They seemed to know instinctively which was _my_
favorite chair. Oh, they were smooth!

"Now, Mr. Gaines," said the light-haired man, "perhaps I should start
off with a little introduction all around and a short explanation of
what Electronic Living can mean to you."

No one had mentioned EL up to that point, yet they knew without a doubt
that I had correctly identified them. Talk about confidence--it was
like a physical force in the room.

"I'm Jake Long and this is Arnie Blik," said the light-haired one,
rising and gripping my hand with a warm, dry, just right handshake.

"Pleased to meet you," said Blik, gripping my hand in turn with an
identical warm, dry, just right handshake.

"I'm going to ask you for a bit of your time," said Long, "and
I certainly hope you can grant us a few minutes without too much

       *       *       *       *       *

I murmured something about having plenty of time. That was a laugh, and
he and I both knew it. I had so little to do, I almost welcomed them
just for sheer entertainment value.

"Well, that's fine," said Long, "but rest assured we aren't going to
try to waste any of your time. We intend to make it short and sweet, as
they say." He did such a good job of keeping up the fiction of me being
a busy man that I almost believed it myself.

"You probably know more about Electronic Living than I do," he said,
and I felt for an instant that I did, "but we'll go over it anyway just
so you understand me a little better. You'll remember back in 1958-1959
there was a lot of work done--or I should say a beginning made--in
developing an electronic eye for people who had lost their eyesight.
This was a start of Electronic Living in its crudest form. These early
pioneers, using what little knowledge was available of the brain
then, were actually able to insert a probe in the brain and enable
the blind person to 'see' light. At first it was just the difference
between light and dark, but after a while they did develop a kind of
vision--and then finally, after much work, the system grew into actual
electronic vision.

"This was, as I said, the start of Electronic Living because it
advanced the basic premise that the brain can utilize outside
electrical impulses for its own purposes. And of course it wasn't long
before some experimenters had rigged up a human television receiver.
What they did was set up a series of brain probes which were directly
connected to a small television receiving apparatus, and the subject
could then 'see' the broadcast image without the use of his eyes.

"Since this rough beginning, we at EL have done a lot of work, and we
are now able to reproduce every sort of physical sensation known to man
through electronic brain connections.

"And recently, as a further refinement, we have been able to capture
internal brain voltages and use them to reproduce thoughtlike
sensations. Unfortunately, these are still in the realm of strong
emotions and not true thoughts, but they are extremely effective.

"Now, it is this combination of physical sensation voltages and
internal brain voltages, when fed into your brain from a simple tape
like this, that produces what we call Electronic Living."

With that he pulled a piece of tape out of his pocket as if producing
an elephant from a thimble.

       *       *       *       *       *

Arnie Blik hadn't said a word up to this point. He had hung on every
word his partner uttered as though it were all new to him. Now he took
up the song.

"May I ask if you've ever experienced Electric Living?" he asked.

"No," I said. I really had once or twice, but I figured it was none of
his business.

"Ah. Well, if you have no objection, I'd like to use this Simulator
here for a few minutes and give you a bare idea of what's going on in
Electronic Living today."

"Sure," I said. "Go right ahead."

Blik opened up the Sim and fished out a hat that was shaped much like a
medieval knight's helmet, except that it had a couple of big fat wires
connected to it at the back.

"Just a moment while I tune it in," Blik said, lowering the helmet part
way over his head. He closed his eyes and began fiddling with a series
of small knots and buttons which were mounted inside the case. Finally
he took it off his head and approached me, carrying this ridiculous
helmet like it was a crown on a velvet pillow.

"You will be experiencing a basketball player," he said, and plopped it
down over my head.

When the helmet came down, there was a momentary blank period,
and then suddenly I was a basketball player who was playing a fast
professional game. I was good, or should say he was? He felt exultation
because his team was ahead and he'd put them there with a difficult
shot. I could feel the pounding of his heart and the strain of his
chest as he gulped in huge quantities of air. His eyes ranged around
the court, following his teammates and opponents.

It was something, all right, but not everything, because on top of the
sensations and emotions of the basketball player, I was getting another
series of feelings and emotion which were my own.

Superimposed on the other players on the court was the image of my
own living room with the two men watching me. Over the smell of sweat
of the basketball players came the odor of my apartment. Above the
sensation of running, jumping and colliding with other players was the
sensation of sitting in my favorite chair with a weight on my head.

In short, I was two people at one time.

Even the emotions of the basketball player--joy at making a basket,
a flare of rage at a rough opponent, and the surge of hope that a
teammate would come through--were clouded over with my own emotions of
not completely accepting as right the whole concept of EL, coupled
with the feeling that I didn't want to show any reaction in front of
the EL men.

After a short time, Blik removed the Sim, and the basketball player's
Life Experience faded away. The two EL men looked at me expectantly.

"Hmmm," I said, forcing myself to appear neutral. They did not seem to
be disappointed by my reaction or lack of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Quite an experience, wasn't it?" said Blik, putting the Sim down on
the floor. "Of course you realize that you don't get the full effect
because you actually have two primary sets of electric images going
into the brain. We never have been able to overcome the subject's own
real physical and mental sensation with a device that works outside the

"But I'm sure Mr. Gaines gets the idea," said Long.

"I'm sure I do," I said. The damn thing was plenty intriguing, but
somehow, despite all its good points, I wasn't really sold on it.

"Perhaps you'd be interested in the kind of thing we have programmed
for our EL subscribers," said Long with a kindly smile. "If you are
someone who likes active sports, we can give you an evening of that
kind of thing. We don't program sports in the daytime or early evening
because it interferes with the regular sports consumers, but it's
nice to have later on in the evening if you like it."

I nodded in what I hoped was a cold manner.

"Perhaps you'd like the milieu built up around a hard-working farmer
or laborer for a daytime program. A certain amount of physical labor
which is coupled with a strong emotion of accomplishment and pride. An
excellent milieu and one of our most popular currently."

"Very interesting," I said noncommitally, intrigued in spite of myself.

Then it was Blik's turn. "If you are interested in the social type of
thing, we have several new milieus that fit right in with this sort
of thing. I can recall one of a formal dinner party which has strong
emotional connotations of well-being and a sense of--grandeur--yes,
grandeur in the old meaning of the word. And in this same milieu
it is possible to get the bon-vivant type of thing. You know, the
raconteur who is a real spellbinder. That has a strong emotion of

"Very interesting," I said again, "but it doesn't quite fill the bill
as far as I'm--"

"Arnie, we've been overlooking the obvious," said Long. "Mr. Gaines
is looking more for the intellectual type of Life Experience. Now,
I recall one of a sculptor which has a fine feel to it. Extremely
intellectual and yet artistically creative, if you know what I mean.
And then there's an extremely thrilling milieu dealing with a symphony
conductor in which there is an absolute physical thrill that is
audio-inspired. Just the thing for anyone who is an audiophile, I'd

I had to admit that it was beginning to sound more appealing all the
time and I found myself wondering just which Life Experience one would
pick first if he were to go EL.

"Of course," said Blik, with a manly grin, "we have the thing we call
our 'playboy milieu' which is strictly a sensual sort of a thing. It
often appeals rather strongly to new subscribers, although I have to
warn you that it soon becomes an Experience which palls on you."

       *       *       *       *       *

He almost had me with that one, because after all I have normal male
curiosity and all that, and naturally it's always these "playboy
milieus" that you hear the most about among people who are non-EL
subscribers. Yes, for a minute or two there, I was teetering on the
brink, but my better sense did ultimately win out and I could feel the
emotion of resistance welling up inside me.

"Well, actually, gentlemen, it isn't a case of not finding the right
milieu, because I'm sure you have anything that I could ever want.
It's more on philosophical grounds that I find that I hesitate to go
along with Electronic Living," I said boldly. Just saying it gave me a
tremendous lift.

"Ah," said Long, looking at the ceiling and making a tent of his
fingers in front of his chest. "I always enjoy talking with a man who
has a philosophical bent. In fact," he said, unfolding the tent and
leaning close to me and lowering his voice a little, "it's the one big
pleasure I get out of this job."

"I'm afraid that I have to agree with you there, Jack," said Blik,
digging his toe into the rug in a distinctly boyish manner.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Why don't you sort of fill us in on your thinking, Mr. Gaines?" urged

"Well," I said, feeling warm under the collar and allowing my hand to
tremble slightly with emotion as I got into what I now realized was the
meat of my resistance to EL. "Well, let's take it from the word go. If
I sign up with you now, I'll go down to the Electronic Living Center
tomorrow or the next day and they'll take me into an operating room and
put some tiny probes into my brain, and aside from a momentary twinge
or two, I won't feel a thing. And then when it's over I'll walk out of
the room looking just the way I did before, except that I'll have a
neat little connection mounted high on the left side of my head where
it can be tastefully covered with hair when not in use.

"And I'll probably come back to this apartment to find the Electronic
Living Machine installed in that corner, tastefully decorated to look
like an old-fashioned antique bookcase, or a modern bar, or whatever
I want it to look like. But whatever it looks like, there will be a
comfortable chair unobtrusively attached to the ELM and sooner or later
I'll sit down in that chair and read over the list of Life Experiences
and select one.

"Then I'll sink back in the chair and the little connection on my head
will fit neatly into another little connection on the chair, because my
chair will fit only me, and it will fit me perfectly.

"And then, while I drift off to EL-land, the chair will unfold around
me so that all sight and sound and almost all feeling will disappear
and I'll be like a chrysalis in a cocoon.

"So for two or three or eight hours I'll stay inside the cocoon, living
another person's life. And while I'm in there, everyone will be sighing
a sigh of relief that here is another potential producer who has
finally given up the ghost and turned consumer.

"Then when the tape is through, the cocoon will open and I'll wake up
tired or refreshed or satiated or somehow changed, and then I'll get
out to the food center and dial a meal or call someone up, or go out
and walk around or something."

       *       *       *       *       *

I was really getting wound up, but Long broke in on me. "Tell me a
little more," he said, "about that one idea, will you? You know, the
idea about how you will give up being a producer and will be all

"I was just coming to that," I said hotly. "Yes, they'll probably
enroll my name on the EL subscribers roll with a big cheer, and all my
non-EL friends will hear about it and they'll raise their eyebrows, or
maybe they'll sign up too.

"But the point is this. Is it right for me, a big, strong, healthy
human being with powers of perception and reasoning and a capability
for work and creativeness--is it right for me to substitute this dream
world of EL for actual real thinking, or doing, or creating? Do any of
us have the right to subvert our normal impulses for creation and for
living in this way?"

"A good question," said Long with a sigh. "I'm afraid he's put it in
pretty unanswerable terms, all right. Except for one minor point, I
couldn't help but agree with everything he said, in spite of the fact
that I--well, I'm sold on EL, naturally."

We sat for a while just sort of gazing around at nothing.

Finally Blik spoke up. "What was that one point that you disagreed on
Jack?" he asked his partner. "I've been running Mr. Gaines' statement
over in my mind and I can't seem to find the flaw you mentioned."

"Oh, it was nothing," said Long impatiently. "Just a minor point."

"No, I mean it," said Blik. "I'd really like to know."

"Not worth talking about. Let's pack up and not take any more of Mr.
Gaines' time."

"Come on, Jack, tell me what it was," said Blik, in a rather positive
way, I thought.

"Really, Arnie," said Long, firing up a little, "take it easy, will
you? We don't want to have to argue about some little point that
doesn't mean anything. Just forget it."

His attitude changed quickly from irritation to downright nastiness.
Apparently, as head of the sales team, he wasn't going to take anything
from a subordinate. It kind of irritated me in turn, because he gave me
the impression that he felt as if he was too good to talk with us about

"All right, all right," said Blik, "the hell with it. So it was a minor

"Why not tell him?" I asked Long, cutting in quickly as Blik made a
move to pack up the Sim.

       *       *       *       *       *

Long turned toward me with a supercilious look that put me in the same
category as assistants who had the temerity to question the boss. Then
in an instant the mask returned and he was just as polite and smooth
as ever--but I'd seen the crack in the slickness before he changed. It
really got me where I live. That's one thing I can't stand--an assault
on the ego by a slick bum like that, who thinks he's so good.

"Oh, I don't see how it can be that small a point," I said. "Especially
if you thought of it." I said the last part as insultingly as I knew
how, and I saw the color rise in his face.

"Yes, speak up," said Blik, siding with me. "He's got a right to know."

"All right," said Long with some asperity that even the professional
mask couldn't hide, "but I warn you that it's strictly a minor point."

"So it's a minor," said Blik. "Tell us."

"The point is," said Long, after a short pause to collect his
thoughts, "that EL fills a need for some people. You see, with the
big upsurge in automation years ago, it got harder and harder for a
production-oriented economy to survive. Jobs got fewer and easier.
People were thrown out of work. During the early years of automation,
there was a lot of population displacement because of a lack of jobs,
and this made for a lot of economic juggling which really didn't help

"It wasn't until some ten years ago that people finally came to the
conclusion that production was outstripping the need for labor and
that, in fact, production was beginning to become a burden on the
economy. And so they turned things around a bit. Instead of giving
rewards and subsidies to the production end of the economy, they began
giving it to the consuming end. That was really the only way out of the

"But it was soon found that people are not merely organisms geared
to consume. At first it was grand and glorious, but after a bit the
urge to create, to work, to think began to assert itself strongly, and
that's where EL came along. EL was developed to give unsatisfied people
satisfactions that they couldn't get anywhere else. They couldn't be
allowed to produce because that was what was wrecking things. So they
had to be provided with a synthetic 'production-fulfillment.'

"Today these producer-minded people can get any sort of satisfaction
they need from EL, and it keeps them from wandering around trying to
produce something that would just be a hindrance. After all, what we
need is consumership, not production.

"But that's a relatively minor point, as I said earlier," Long
concluded looking at me with a superior air. "It's such a minor point,
it won't even bear discussion."

       *       *       *       *       *

His manner, underneath the slick facade, implied that he wouldn't
deign to discuss it with two peasants like Blik and me under any

"Just a minute," I said. "It's _not_ a minor point at all. It seems to
me that you've hit the core of the problem."

"A minor point," insisted Long, his eyes blazing, although his face
retained the mask of the smiling salesman.

"Perhaps I didn't make myself clear," I said. "Have you ever stopped
to think that if you take EL into the larger picture, it does serve a
purpose, and perhaps we are all here for a different reason than I had
originally discussed? Maybe the thing to be is a super-consumer--maybe
definitive consumership is the most vital thing in our life, not the
production of things."

"Well, that's an idea, sure enough," said Blik suddenly. He had been
silent during the flare-up between Long and me. "But I can't help
but think," he continued, "that your original argument was a little
tighter. The old virtues do have a place, don't they?"

You see how slick, how well-trained, how cunning they were? When Blik
opened his mouth, the bubble burst, and I knew that they had neatly
switched me around to where I was arguing against myself. Up until the
instant Blik started talking, I was actually selling myself on EL, and
the truth was that I had almost completed the job by that time. If he
had remained silent, I probably would have signed the contract--I think
I would have fought to sign it.

I felt an emotion of strength and power then. A top EL team had given
me the works and I had seen through them. They still didn't know they
had lost, but they would--just as soon as I opened my mouth to speak.
The emotion of victory is sweeter than almost anything else, and all
the sweeter for having skirted defeat.

"You know, Arnie," I said, "I agree with you. The old virtues are best.
I think EL is a living hell."

It was a sight to see, believe me. Their slick, slick faces folded like
paper houses in a hurricane. Blik's hands were shaking as he bent over
and started packing up the Sim without another word. You have to be
good to know that fast that you have lost irrevocably.

They got up then and scooped their hats up from the floor and put them
on. The gracious, gentlemanly conduct was a thing of the past.

"Tell me," said Long, his hand on the door, the edge of the EL contract
peeking untidily out of his expensive briefcase, "where did we make our

I laughed a good loud whoop. It felt good. "It was when Arnie here
switched sides."

"Stupid fool," said Long, looking as though he wanted to slam the
square box containing the Sim over Blik's head.

"Sorry, old man," Blik said, coloring a deep red. "I'll try to make it
up next time."

"Not with me, you won't," said Long. "Technician!"

They opened the door and went out. I jigged with glee as I looked out
the window and watched them cross the court. Long was walking along in
a high dudgeon, his briefcase swinging angrily with every step. Blik
was trotting along to one side and behind him, his shoulders slumped,
defeat written all over his form and walk.

       *       *       *       *       *

I looked around as the wall swung open and Rommy walked in with his
hand outstretched.

"Congratulations!" he said, beaming widely. "It was perfect! My God,
it's a delight for a director to work with a real group of competent
actors. All three of you were perfect!"

"Thanks," I said. "I hope I was as good as you think when we play the
tape back." I felt along the base of my skull where the transmitter
hung encased in Natur-flesh and covered with fake hair. I could hardly
believe it was there, it felt so natural.

Rommy looked out the window. Long and Blik were walking back through
the gate, talking and waving their arms the way people do when they're
excited about doing a good job.

"There's a pair of sweethearts," said Rommy. "Real actors, those boys.
I checked out the transmission right up to the last minute and they
really gave out--you couldn't find a quiver of disbelief or strain.
They _felt_ it."

"So did I," I said, sitting down and putting my feet up on a low table
on the set. "Tell me, Rommy, what in hell is EL going to use these
tapes for, anyway? It seems to me it would be sort of dangerous to put
all this on tape."

"We couldn't tell you before because it might have spoiled your
reactions, but we have a lot of EL subscribers who are down deep
opposed to EL, and this tape will be sort of a catharsis for them.
It'll give them a real jolt."

"Oh, producer types who are struggling to become consumer types," I
said. "They'll experience the role I just got through playing, and it
will make them feel they didn't sign the contract, huh?"

"There's more to it than that," said Rommy. "There are some people who
just like to experience an extremely strong sales-resistant emotion,
mostly because they're pushovers. We wouldn't make a tape like this
just for the anti-EL jerks. It's too expensive."

"Tell me," I said, "what are you using Long and Blik for? I thought I
detected transmitters on them, too."

"Just the opposite from what you were doing. Some people like to
experience a setback or even a complete failure now and then. Sort of
an opposite to the 'high' tapes. Lord knows we got hundreds of 'high'
tapes, but not many low ones, so we're starting to build a library of
them now. A lot of subscribers are getting tired of winning all the
time and they'd like to experience a defeat or two once in a while just
for the contrast."

Long and Blik came in the door without knocking.

Rommy was on his feet in an instant. "Boys," he shouted, "you were
great! I checked the tapes and nobody could be lower than you guys
walking out across that court. It was sensational. Probably the best
thing that's ever been done here at EL Studios!"

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sales Talk" ***

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