Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Unfortunately, this equality has been achieved by handicapping the most intelligent, athletic or beautiful members of society down to the level of the lowest common denominator, a process central to the society which is overseen by the United States Handicapper General, who at the time of the story is the shotgun-toting Diana Moon Glampers.
Harrison Bergeron, the title character, is by age 14 exceptionally gifted in all three aspects -- already seven feet tall, "a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder" -- and outgrowing hindrances faster than the Handicapper General's office can think them up. When he is taken to prison for plotting to overthrow the government, for a moment he escapes and manages to break free of his imposed handicaps, and into a television studio:
"I am the Emperor!" cried Harrison. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!" He stamped his foot and the studio shook. "Even as I stand here" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened - I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!"
The ensuing hullabaloo is televised, with the Handicapper General herself eventually arriving to settle things; Bergeron's parents, Hazel and George, are at home watching television, and see the whole thing. However, thanks to their concentration handicaps, once it is all over, they forget what exactly it was that had caused so much excitement.
The story was adapted into a TV film in 1995 starring Sean Astin. It also formed a segment of the 1972 TV production and book Between Time and Timbuktu. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1961, and is collected in Welcome to the Monkey House.
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