2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut
2 B R 0 2 B’ is a short story by renowned science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut. The title is pronounced as “2 B R naught 2 B”, referencing to the famous phrase “to be, or not to be” from William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. In this 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.
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