Pilgrimage to Earth (Sheckley)

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Pilgrimage to Earth
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man traveled to Earth seeking true love, only to discover that love was a commercial product, sold and manipulated by a company called Love, Inc.

Alfred Simon, a young man from the agricultural planet Kazanga IV, felt that something was missing in his life. One day, a vendor arrived on his planet and told stories of Earth, the only place in the galaxy that still had love. Intrigued, Simon decided to travel to Earth in search of love.

Alfred Simon — narrator; young farmer from Kazanga IV; naive, idealistic, and romantic.

Upon arriving in New York, Simon was overwhelmed by the city's attractions and peculiarities. He met a man named Joe, who directed him to a place called Love, Inc.

Joe — wizened, furtive-faced little man; recruiter for Love, Inc..

There, he met Mr. Tate, who assured him that they could provide him with genuine love. Despite his doubts, Simon agreed to try their service.

Mr. Tate — representative of Love, Inc.; gray-haired, handsome, and persuasive.

Earth is the only place in the galaxy that still has love!

Simon was introduced to a woman named Penny Bright, and they instantly fell in love. They spent a passionate day together, experiencing the love that Simon had always dreamed of. However, when they returned to Love, Inc., Penny was taken away from him. Mr. Tate explained that Penny's love for Simon was artificially created and that she was now being prepared to love someone else.

Penny Bright — employee of Love, Inc.; tall, slender, with brown hair; object of Simon's love.

We've wiped out the previous indoctrination. Penny is now in love with someone else.

Devastated, Simon realized that the love he had experienced was nothing more than a commercial product. He left Love, Inc., determined to escape Earth and its commercialized impracticalities. In his despair, he found himself at a shooting gallery, where he decided to try his luck.