- Foreword: Writing Rochester's Futures
- "Interesting Times"
- "Culinary Capital, 2034"
- "Night Bells"
- "Hollow Lives"
- "The Naked Girl"
- "Time Enough for Love"
- "Day of the Bicentennial"
- "One City at a Time"
- "Want Not"
- "The Costs of Survival"
- "Getting Wet"
- "Top 10 Headlines, Rochester, NY, 2034"
- "North Star Pipeline"
- "The 2034 Lilac Festival"
- "Scotch and Sizzlenuts on the Resolute Bay"
- "Fads (or Why Jerry Loathes the Aliens)" [FULL TEXT, AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY]
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Angie Cartwright closed her Personal Pharmacy, checked her makeup, and took the first bus downtown to the Bureau of Harmony.
The day was warm and sunny as she stepped off the bus into the Square. It had taken the city years to clean up this area, and now it was shiny and sufficiently modern for Angie’s tastes. It was 2034 after all; concrete was a thing of the past. Not that the area was quite buzzing with life. Activity downtown had always been slow, though that had improved in the past decade or so, after Midtown had been replaced with the Square.
She strode into the Bureau, confident that today would be the day. She checked in with the automated reception desk and sat down to wait. It was a fairly large room, all blue upholstery and chrome. Pictures on the wall showed happy couples, illuminated by overhead lights. Small speakers broadcast testimonials of their lives together, the success stories of the Bureau.
Angie pulled the iMedia from her pocket and scrolled through the news headlines: “Food Riots Continue Throughout Third World,” “Man Shot Outside McMarket.”
She sighed and shook her head. There was no reason for that kind of violence. They made pills for that sort of thing.
The reception desk called her name. She rose and walked to the door of the office. The man behind the desk looked up as she entered. “Angie Cartwright?” he asked. She nodded, and he introduced himself as Dr. Kincaid. “Please sit down.” He gestured to a chair. She sat nervously, awaiting the decision.
He smiled at her. “Congratulations,” he said, pushing a piece of paper across the desk towards her. “You’re engaged.”
She smiled and said, “Thank you.”
“Take a look.”
She obeyed and studied the paper before her. There was a picture of a man about her age, dark-haired and slightly vapid-looking. The caption read, “George Boyer.” Her eyes traveled further down the paper. They had the same blood type, similar IQs, identical career interests, and at the very bottom of the sheet was the most important thing of all: “Risk of birth defect: None.”
She looked up at Dr. Kincaid. “Thank you very much.”
“We’ve arranged for a meeting next Saturday. Is that acceptable?”
Saturday. That gave her one week. “That’s perfect.”
She rose and he did the same. They shook hands. “Thank you again,” she said as she left. She practically skipped back to the bus terminal, smiling the entire ride home. She was engaged.
It wasn’t a long ride, but it seemed to go even faster than usual. The bus took her straight down Monroe Avenue, past a few apartment buildings where college students lived, and into a commercial area. The small local shops were mostly gone, replaced by larger chains and franchises, and business was good. The street was busy with shoppers.
Angie got off the bus and walked down Rosedale Street to her home, marveling at how bright the sky was. She was so distracted that she nearly tripped over her neighbor while crossing the street. As it was, he fell down trying to avoid her.
“Sorry,” she cried, her mood momentarily dampened as she helped him up.
“I’m alright,” he answered. “You should watch where you’re going.”
“I know,” she said with some dismay. “I’m kind of in shock. I just got engaged.”
“Oh? Congratulations. Who’s the lucky man?”
Angie pulled out the paper from the Bureau and showed it to him.
A curious expression came over his face. “The Bureau of Harmony,” he said. “I don’t know who they think they are, matching people up like that.”
“They have a 97% success rate,” protested Angie. “They must know what they’re doing.”
“Either that or their customers are too medicated to care.”
This is just a sample. To read more, order 2034 from our online store.