2BR02B (Vonnegut)

2BR02B - Kurt Vonnegut

One of the disadvantages of electronic downloads is that you lose physically obvious metadata - by which I mean the size of the literary object you've acquired. This is a short story of 13-15 pp., probably originally published in a magazine. It has all the hallmarks of a good science fiction story of its era: quick dystopian world-building, a few sharply, even harshly, delineated characters, and a single disturbing event that leaves you pondering. The dystopia in this case is a world where illness and natural death are defeated, and population control is carried out by state-enforced euthanasia, and through a set of social norms (the elderly must agree to be killed to make way for the babies). I wondered as I read whether Vonnegut was thinking of the similar, but differently resolved, dystopia of the least-known destination in Gulliver's Travels, the nation of the Struldbrugs. Anyway, disappointed though I was not to have a Vonnegut novel in my hands, I enjoyed reading this little thought-jolter.