2BR02B – A Vonnegut Story on Project Gutenberg

I just saw via Boing Boing that one of Kurt Vonnegut’s stories, 2BR02B, has been posted on the Project Gutenberg site. You can read 2BR02B here. The title seems confusing, at least to me, until you read it out loud, . When I read it, I think it translates to “To Be Or Not To Be”. The zero in the title I think can be translated to “not” (think binary). Anyhow, here are the first few lines:

Everything was perfectly swell.

There were no prisons, no slums, no insane asylums, no cripples, no
poverty, no wars.

All diseases were conquered. So was old age.

Death, barring accidents, was an adventure for volunteers.

The population of the United States was stabilized at forty-million
souls.

Talk about an interesting beginning. At first glance, this sounds like a pretty neat place to live, especially the no poverty, no wars part. Obviously, things aren’t as “swell” as they seem, otherwise it would be a pretty boring story. I know a bunch of you all are Vonnegut fans, so I thought you would like this.


Update

Wow, I’m on Page 6 and just read the following:

“Triplets!” she said. She was exclaiming over the legal implications of
triplets.

The law said that no newborn child could survive unless the parents of
the child could find someone who would volunteer to die. Triplets, if
they were all to live, called for three volunteers.

“Do the parents have three volunteers?” said Leora Duncan.

“Last I heard,” said Dr. Hitz, “they had one, and were trying to scrape
another two up.”

2 thoughts on “2BR02B – A Vonnegut Story on Project Gutenberg

  1. This reminds me of the tribe in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, who have developed a superstition against twins, based on their tenuous food supply. Any twins born to the tribe are left in the forest to die, and it is this practice, in part, which spurs one character to leave his tribe and take up with the Christian missionaries when they arrive.

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