“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.”
"2 B R 0 2 B" is a science fiction short story by Kurt Vonnegut, originally published in 1962, The title is pronounced "2 B R naught 2 B", referencing the famous phrase "to be, or not to be" from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. In the story, the title refers to the telephone number one dials to schedule an assisted suicide with the Federal Bureau of Termination.
The setting is a society in which aging has been cured, individuals have indefinite lifespans, and population control is used to limit the population of the United States to forty million. This is maintained through a combination of infanticide and government-assisted suicide - in short, in order for someone to be born, someone must first volunteer to die. As a result, births are few and far between, and deaths occur primarily by accident.
"2 B R 0 2 B" was the basis for the 2016 Canadian short film 2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be directed by Marco Checa Garcia which premiered at the Sci-Fi-London festival in April 2016. The story was also the basis for another 2016 short film "2BR02B" directed by Tom Morash, and produced by Megan Jordan with Gold Leaf Films.
Kurt Vonnegut was a prolific and genre-bending American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, and Breakfast of Champions. He was also known for his humanist beliefs and being honorary president of the American Humanist Association.
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About the Author
Date of Birth:November 11, 1922
Date of Death:April 11, 2007
Place of Birth:Indianapolis, Indiana
Place of Death:New York, New York
Education:Cornell University, 1940-42; Carnegie-Mellon University, 1943; University of Chicago, 1945-47; M.A., 1971