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Short Stories > 2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut is the short story I've found the most in the Librivox SF collections of short stories. It's a good one, about a future world where the population is under control.

You can read it on Gutenberg for free in multiple formats:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21279

Listen on Librivox for free.
https://librivox.org/search?q=2%20B%2...


message 2: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments I read 2 B R 0 2 B several years ago. I can't remember it to save my life, but I think the title is very clever.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
It's short & worth reading again. Something like his "Welcome to the Monkey House" in the subject matter.


message 4: by Buck (last edited Apr 01, 2018 10:01AM) (new)

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Jim wrote: "It's short & worth reading again. Something like his "Welcome to the Monkey House" in the subject matter."

"Welcome to the Monkey House" is a favorite. I should read that again, too.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Oy. Good companion to The Cold Equations. Especially because the respective situations should never have come to pass, and the reader has to suspend frustration with poor planners and just focus on the theme as expressed.

Having done that, having assumed that somehow Wehler found himself in this mess despite, assuredly, plenty of previous opportunities to avoid it, I did enjoy the impact of the story. It's much more than the theme. The characters are interesting, the world-building details are both clever and meaningful, the side commentary on such other themes as the nature of art are enrichments.... So much in such a short story.

Thank you for choosing this!


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
Glad you liked it. Short stories are pretty limited & I think Vonnegut did a great job in the space allotted. No, it shouldn't have come to pass, but this was first published in 1962 when the government was making a lot of noise about overpopulation I think, but my memories are more reliable from the end of the decade. I remember a lot of ZPG talk then, so this was his way of expressing the fears of the time.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Well, I can see the plausibility of a gov't limiting pop. growth this way. Obviously, look at China. What I'm saying shouldn't come to pass is this individual man getting himself into this mess, when he surely knew about the policy. He didn't (view spoiler).


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
True, but also think back to when this was written. No sonograms. They hadn't even been thought of as far as I know. They were pretty new in the early 80s when my kids were born & often not with enough resolution to tell the sex, if the parents wanted to know. Doctors detected how many kids there were by heartbeats & feeling around. Twins were often a surprise back then. Well, maybe not exactly, but in the public consciousness they certainly could be.


message 9: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (last edited Apr 06, 2018 11:44AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Ah, I did not realize that. I suppose, in the story, by the time triplets were realized, an abortion would be too dangerous.

Anyway, as I said, the story is powerful in any case.


message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
It's amazing how fast we take some tech for granted, isn't it? Marg & I lived half our lives without a microwave, but when ours died the other day, I had to bring the other one in from the shop. (I use it to dry bowls & other stuff I turn out of green wood.) We couldn't live without it. We don't even own a tea kettle any more.


message 11: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sl | 14 comments Very enjoyable to read this, together with The Cold Equations. I also read a moral statement in the 'calculations'. With regards to the availability of (natural) resources, one human life equates with one other human life. For a human being, however, this calculation never sums up, since our relatives and children simply count for more.

It makes me think of a philosophical theory that is called 'against empathy'. The idea is that empathy makes us value people that are close to us more. Because of that, it is hard to recognize the value of people outside of our own way of living, for example, the miners of natural resources of the computers that we use. And as a result, there is too little knowledge and engagement to address global systemic inequalities.

The question these stories pose, then, is whether 'cold equations' through laws would help us to make a more enjoyable world for more people.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Frans de Waal and others argue that we empathize with those of kinship more, and are more altruistic to them. And we compete with 'outsiders.' We do so on behalf of Dawkins' The Selfish Gene.

If we believe that, the question becomes more whether we can convince everyone that we're all brothers & sisters. Might be difficult....


message 13: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 142 comments People often define theirselves in opposition to others. We only would become a great brotherhood and a great sisterhood if a exterior threat would threat us. Even in this situation I am not so sure that my statement would be true.


message 14: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 868 comments I liked the story despite the fact that if it were my totalitarian utopia I'd set obligatory contraception drugs/other means plus allowing to get pregnant only if someone dies plus if there is still a unwanted pregnancy than both parent to to Happy Hooligan even if one child.

Of course this rules break the tragism of the story :)


message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
I don't think The Pill was invented when this story was written. Another one of those things we take for granted.


message 16: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 868 comments Jim wrote: "I don't think The Pill was invented when this story was written. Another one of those things we take for granted."

Condoms were.
Sterilization of both sexes was, with males - for over 500 years, it usually wasn't reversible but that's because it wasn't seen as needed and not as a surgical impossibility


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
Yes, but planned parenting wasn't wide spread. It wasn't something society as a whole did. The Pill was revolutionary in that it gave women control over their pregnancies. Remember a woman's place in society then & earlier.


message 18: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 868 comments Jim wrote: "The Pill was revolutionary in that it gave women control over their pregnancies."

The social trumps technological in this issue. In the ancient Egypt women used to put spiderwebs down there because it works the modern day spiral works - foreign objects prevent pregancy


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4209 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "The social trumps technological in this issue. In the ancient Egypt women used to put spiderwebs down ..."

I don't think that's a very good example. It's unsanitary & likely to lead to a variety of health issues as were many of the early forms of birth control. A lot of women died from UTIs before antibiotics, an extremely painful way to go. Birth control devices were also difficult in various ways, time consuming, & messy. They also weren't allowed by various religions. Still aren't by some. It wasn't until the tech became readily available, safe, & easy to use that planned parenting took off.


message 20: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 868 comments Jim wrote: " It's unsanitary & likely to l..."

From what I recall spider webs are antiseptic. Still, I don't disagree with you that planned parenthood is a recent phenomenon even despite the full story is more complicated, e.g. breast-feeding was used as contraception across the globe


message 21: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1983 comments Mod
This story was fine but didn't do much for me. Vonnegut wrote another story about overpopulation which contained more of his caustic wit. There were two versions with names "The Big Trip up Yonder" and "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow".

It is sometimes packaged together with 2BR02B, as here: The Big Trip up Yonder/2BR02B


message 22: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 472 comments I just read this one--what a world!


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