“Pop Squad” by Paolo Bacigalupi. In a world in which global warming has melted the polar ice caps, in which people are forced closer together because of a lack of land mass (New York City is under water) into a large, multilevel city in which overpopulation has become a serious crime, “police” are sent to execute children. In this world there is a chemical, rejoo, which allows everyone to live indefinitely. Overpopulation has become a dangerous reality. But how much “control” can society exert over a force so compelling that mothers are willing to risk their lives at any cost to have children? Like the fireman Montag in the Ray Bradbury novel, FAHRENHEIT 451, the very nature of what the policeman does is in question.
The opposite is true in “Auspicious Eggs” by James Morrow, in which babies are examined for their fertility. If not fertile, the babies are “baptized” – in other words, executed – because the church recognizes only those who can procreate. Some of course refuse to live under those conditions.
“Peter Skilling” by Alex Irvine. A man named Skilling, high on reefer, falls into a glacial crevasse in the year 2005 and dies, only to be “resurrected” 98 years after his death – to find himself in a very different world. Skilling’s beliefs, his stature in life – purchasing the banned substance from a man who was part of what has developed into a terrorist organization – are now on military trial. What is the inevitable outcome?
“The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury. The story is just as chilling and poignant today as the time I read it in 9th grade. The year is 2131 and Mr. Leonard Mead – an ordinary guy out taking a walk -- is caught up in his own terror. All the guy wanted to do was take a relaxing stroll through the neighborhood!
“Dead Space for the Unexpected” by Geoff Ryman. Jonathan, always at the mercy of performance feedbacks at the office, has several items on a closely monitored agenda. The tasks include firing Simon, dealing with Harriet, and putting up with Sally. In this world, ALL you do at work is closely monitored, down to every decision-making detail. The horror of it all is, what if the time allotted, such as the “dead space” time, is not sufficient?
“Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution?” by Genevieve Valentine. Liz, who works for the Department of Information Affairs, and Greg, are on a date in a society that carefully screens who gets together for what and why. State control takes on new meaning, and any resistance is carefully controlled.
“The Lunatics” by Kim Stanley Robinson. Miners deep inside Earth’s moon are nothing but slaves, held captive by the pursuit of the radioactive promethium ore. However, like all slaves, the miners want to escape, this time to the never-before-seen surface.
Other significant stories are represented, including “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” by Harlan Ellison; “The Minority Report” by Philip K. Dick; “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.; and “Caught in the Organ Draft” by Robert Silverberg.
There are many other writers as well.