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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  6,590 ratings  ·  482 reviews
2BR02B is a satiric short story that imagines life & death in a future world where aging has been “cured” & population control is mandated and administered by the government.
ebook, 10 pages
Published May 3rd 2007 by Feedbooks (first published January 1962)
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Petra Xtra Crunchy
Rather mundane story of a future where population balance is all - for every child born, one person has to die, now that anything but voluntary mortality is a thing of the past. In my view, the reality of such a situation would be that there would always be a contentious third world and there would always be aggressive young men and there will always be an arms industry and small wars will be encouraged.

I do see that medical cures and ways of extending life, perhaps more or less indefinitely, mi...more
Scribble Orca
Dec 04, 2012 Scribble Orca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vonnegut neophytes

So, I...uh...had a deal with spenke I was supposed to be knifing open the satsuma plum of my Vonnegut chastity belt with Breakfast of Champions. But, you know, patience hasn't been coded into my DNA, let alone cultivated as one of my virtues (sic).

In 1999, Kurt Vonnegut was asked to write an an epitaph for the 20th century. His response?

"I have written it: The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy."

2 B R 0 2 B (RIP Shakespeare) is a flash fiction he wrote in 19...more
Man, this was bleak. It is set in a future world where aging can be halted and the average age is somewhere around 130. Because people are living much longer and the planet's resources are depleted, the government keeps the US population at 40 million. The Federal Bureau of Termination provides several ways for people to die if they'd like to give up their life for a newborn. One man is at the hospital waiting for his wife to give birth to triplets, but he doesn't have enough volunteers to die s...more
Andreea Daia
Quick and dirty reading notes and (i)relevant thoughts
✐ It's quite amusing that not earlier than yesterday, I wrote a "review" for First Meetings in Ender's Universe, a collection of short stories that addresses the exact opposite topic from 2BR02B (link to review). In there, Orson Scott Card advocates people's right to have as many children as they desire, while in 2BR02B, for a newborn to be allowed to live, one of the existing people has to die. And of course, as any extreme, none of them is...more
Lit Bug

Yes, that's right. It's a 6/5 rating. 5/5 seems so... unfair.

Kurt Vonnegut is perhaps the most under-rated author of our literary history. This tiny short story (only 12 pages) is filled with so much satire, angst and anger that one tends to forget it is sci-fi. Although, this is the first story where the SF aspect is so well forgotten as the story develops, that even those repelled by SF would love this.

The title 2 B R 0 T B is an acronym for the eternal conflict in humanity - To Be Or Not T...more
A short interlude while waiting for the next George R.R. Martin book, a short story downloaded from the Gutenberg Project. An even shorter interlude than expected as it turns out; the second half of the book turns out to be the Gutenberg licence which considerably shortens the read.

But, while the story is short (and it is really short) it's a clever allegory set in the future where ageing has been conquered and consequently population growth must be tightly controlled. One in equals one out. In...more
4.0 stars. Dark, satirical look at a future United States where people can now live indefinitely and the population is kept at a constant forty million. This population (without natural death) is achieved through a combination of infanticide and government-assisted suicide. For someone to be born, someone else must die.

For something so short, it does a great job when it comes to delivering its message. It leaves you thinking for much, much longer than the five minutes it takes to read it, though I admit that the subject is not something I like to think about very often. Gloomy? Yes, but very effective.

Years back when I read Orwell’s 1984 I felt a magic that can happen only from a beautiful world being woven by a great writer. Orwell tried to present to us the picture of a world where a “big brother” watches our very move. Then came Bradbury with Fahrenheit 451 and here was a world where the thoughts are again held arrested by the government.

Not to sound too presumptuous but there is one another work. The Valley of Masks by Tarun Tejpal gave us a glimpse of people being ransomed for the dream...more
As I now know, it is 2BRnaught2B. It is a story of population control, a topic I have personally thought about and spoke about often over the years. It is a good short story worth your half an hour or less. My Vonnegut list continues to grow, as does my appreciation for the author. He has not yet for me, achieved the higher plane achieved by the likes of Dickens or E. R. Burroughs or Jane Austen.

The theme of population control recalls to my mind a time when I too ranted about this planet having...more
This is a mere 9 pages. It is free on Kindle. It is Kurt Vonnegut. 'Nough said. Read it and let me know what you think.

I would love to have a literary dinner party where everyone reads this and this discusses...a great jumping off point for a lively debate of actual and hypothetical "what if"s about aging and populations control.

Happy Reading!
sara ahmed
brilliant short read for everyone seeking utopia, here’s a highly likely scenario of how things might go down.
Viji Sarath (Bookish endeavors)
I am dumbfounded..!! Thank God there isn't enough logic in this world,that's what comes to mind.. To choose between the ones to die and the ones to live,that's a difficult choice as it is,and more so when it's one's own kids. The story is a creation of an out-of-this-world genius. No matter how much I dislike the concept,it's a wonderful plot,one I've never seen before(except a slightly different version in Robin Cook's 'abduction')..
So,here's my opinion of this story.. Hate it or like it,but j...more
When it says short story, it is indeed very short. I actually wished there was much more to the story because the world that Kurt Vonnegut created within the pages is one of those dystopian worlds that I love to read about.

Aging has been cured in 2BR02B, therefore the population must be kept under control. People have jobs that most people would find disturbing (at least I would), but they go on about their daily business like it's nothing but shuffling papers. The story opens with a man who is...more
Lori Anderson
WOW. What an impactful 12 pages this was. This is my first Vonnegut, but it certainly won't be the last. The Nook version I got had another 12 pages or so about Vonnegut's life and other books, which was just as fascinating to read as the book.

2BR02B (to be or not to be) is a book about our world, a scary Brave New World, with population control and assisted suicide. You can have kids, but you have to find someone who is will to die in order to keep your kids. And people are now able to live int...more
The man has a point.

In a utopia of perfect days, in which everything from disease to aging has been arrested, there will be no more deaths resulting from natural causes or tragedy. Everyone gets to be immortal. But there has been an exchange of entitlements. As the story's doctor says, people left to themselves insist on reproducing while insisting on living forever. That won't work. Can't work.

This isn't a story about government control.

This is a story that tells us we will never be free of pai...more
Kasey Jane
It feels sacrilegious to give Vonnegut less than three stars, but so it goes.

This is one of two Vonnegut stories on overpopulation (that I know of), the other being The Big Trip Up Yonder. Where The Big Trip deals with the theme of privacy in an overpopulated world, 2BR02B, concerns utopia and suicide.

Vonnegut's real strength is in his ability to infuse humor into dark stories of human weakness in the face of an uncaring universe. Without humor, his stories would be unreadable; as they are, many...more
Thanks iko ^^ as usual, a life saver ^^.
What if you can live forever?In a healthy , comfortable and perfect environment, but it comes with a price, with a catch if I might say.
The concept of this book is ethically wrong ,on so many levels, but coming to think about it, I think it makes a lot of sense .
The moral of the story , if there is any I could talk about without spoiling the book, is that anything we would want to achieve comes with a price , something we need to give in order to take, wha...more
Christopher Lee
Like so many of Vonnegut's works this one too stirs the mind to assess our own understanding of our surroundings. Ringing to the tune of 1984, 2BR02B nails it when it comes to terms of life and death and its very close relation to our society/planet. To have but 2 terrible, inhumane options in terms of how to manage if enough that its effects are felt by one of this short story's characters. Yet it is no different than what we face today even without the discovery of how to beat aging, though we...more
Devlin Scott
I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this story. It is a simple tale of planetary population control and it is one of the most sardonic tales I've ever read. You must read this one for yourself.

This tiny 24 page story plays on the "To be or not to be" monologue from Hamlet in a chillingly creative way. (The number "0" in the title is to be pronounced "nought". 2BR02B It first appeared in Worlds of If, January 1962, and is uncanny in its focus on the problem of overpopulation. As the world today moves toward 8 billion people on the planet, Vonnegut's "solution" to the issue is even more draconian than "Soylent Green". The story can be read for free online at:
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
i've read a number of vonnegut stories, many of them more than once. but i haven't read this one, much less heard about it until recently. i wonder if the title is a phone number:

"got a problem? just pick up the phone. it solved them all--and all the same way!"

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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An interesting view on what population control would look like on Earth if people were to never have died. When there is population control, people have to give their lives away in order for new life to happen. In the specific story unfolded in this book, this couple had triplets but someone had to die in order for the triplets to survive. If they couldn't find 3 people to die in the triplet's place, then the triplets would have to die and their death would be through the world government contro...more
This is indeed a very short story, to be read in a few minutes.
In the future aging has become a thing of the past, and the resulting problem of over-population is solved in a strange way.
I would have preferred that the subject would have been further elaborated. It is a little unsatisfactory the way it is.

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Abhay Kulkarni
This was a short, interesting, thought provoking 10 minutes read! Although the ending did make me go, "Wait, What just happened!??", for a second :-D
"To be or not to be" es una historia corta publicada originalmente en 1962.

Sin adelantar mucho, la historia va de que en el futuro el envejecimiento se ha curado, la gente tiene un promedio de vida de al menos 130 años y existe control de población. Para que una persona nazca, deberá primero ofrecerse alguién voluntariamente a morir. Consecuentemente, los nacimientos son pocos y las muertes ocurren sobre todo por accidente.

Lo mejor es que "2BR02B" se refiere a número de teléfono para, si usted...more
Un cuento típicamente Vonnegutiano, en el que el cenizo Kurt da la vuelta a una utopía manipulando los mejores sentimientos de los que es capaz el ser humano. Vonnegut transforma el deber familiar y el deber hacia la sociedad en un cuento donde el horror soterrado aparece desde ser algo casi implícito hasta un final devastador. Un cuento sobre cómo individualismo y colectividad son las dos caras de un ideal que no vale de mucho sin continuidad, pero que exige un precio muy elevado.

A veces se pre...more
I have read this story before, but couldn't remember the name until getting it on my Kindle for free. (Found a great list of free Kindle books, and have been working through it recently). As I've said in other reviews of Vonnegut's works, I am a huge fan of him and his style, and have a hard time finding anything negative to say. This is not an exception. I love this story, although it is grim and the ending less than perfect (as can be expected if you've read other works by him). It is about a...more
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Which Vonnegut to read next? 3 35 Jul 29, 2014 09:14AM  
Dystopia Land: 2br02b by Kurt VONNEGUT 20 36 Jan 20, 2014 06:29AM  
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  • Tales of Space and Time
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  • All Summer in a Day
  • The Planet Savers
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  • A Calendar of Tales
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali...more
More about Kurt Vonnegut...
Slaughterhouse-Five Cat's Cradle Breakfast of Champions The Sirens of Titan Mother Night

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“The painter pondered the mournful puzzle of life demanding to be born and, once born, demanding to be fruitful ... to multiply and to live as long as possible—to do all that on a very small planet that would have to last forever.” 1 likes
“The painter's face curdled with scorn "You think I'm proud of this daub?" he said. "You think this is my idea of what life looks like?"

"What's your idea of what life looks like?" said the orderly.

The painter gestured at a foul dropcloth. "There's a good picture of it," he said. "Frame that, and you'll have a picture a damn sight more honest than this one.”
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