This Perfect Day

“You are only partly alive.” —Anonymous Note (This Perfect Day)

Levin's 1970 novel This Perfect Day presents a vision of the future in many ways so in lockstep with the trajectory and reality of present-day society, it's nigh unbelievable: “Ira Levin must have built an actual time machine and moved to 2020, where he rented an apartment and wrote the manuscript for This Perfect Day with one eye on cable news. There can be no other possible explanation.” (Geeky Domain, 2020)

Levin foresaw a future leaning toward a benignly-presenting, totalitarian order – a seeming utopia, free from war, hunger and strife. But one which, in reality, stifled all human impulse and agency. One eugenically-merged human race. One global nation-state. One religion.

All dictated by a single, massive supercomputer buried deep beneath the Swiss Alps – "UniComp". (Named after the global "Unification" it now oversees.) 'Uni' decides your profession. On which continent you'll live. Who you'll marry. If – and how many – children you'll have.

     1970s Illustration (Credit: David Chestnutt)

Monthly chemical 'treatments' ensure docility, non-violence, and behavioral calm; sex has been chemically-attenuated to occur only once weekly. And the maximum lifespan is 62 years.

Into this mix comes Li RM35M4419, or ‘Chip’ as Papa Jan calls him, with his genetically-imperfect one brown and one green eye. Chip learns that all this is not normal – not human. And begins to rebel.

Again (though in this case having gone uncredited for it), with This Perfect Day Levin helped create yet another sub-genre: Young Adult Dystopia. (Compare it with later works such as "The Giver.") Indeed, you'll find its influence far and wide – not least of all in the brilliant film "The Matrix," as this piece examines.

Individualism is at the core of much of Levin's work, but perhaps nowhere more so than here – with This Perfect Day having become a mainstay of Libertarian fiction, receiving the Libertarian Futurist Society's Prometheus Award in 1992.

“The conception of This Perfect Day is brilliant, the execution flawless, and there is a continuing intelligence presiding over the whole work . . . If you want to do yourself a favor, read This Perfect Day.”
    —Libertarianism.org (1975)

  • The ‘Red Pill’ trope (just in the "awakening" sense) may have originated in This Perfect Day... when ‘Chip’ is given a red capsule whose effects will enable him to experience the world as it truly is – not as he's been artificially induced to perceive it as being

  • The Swedish book Chip attempts to translate (Bädda för död) is Levin's own novel A Kiss Before Dying
Gallery

(Above) U.K. Jacket (2014)

(Above) Eponymous Swedish Band “This Perfect Day”

(Above) The future is mannequin

Books
Click here to read an excerpt from "This Perfect Day"