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8.1: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CASSANDRA

8.11: A Day in the Life of Cassandra

Cassandra cocked open one eye. The message on the screen read

DATE: 1 JANUARY 2000 08.27.52
TO: CASSANDRA
FROM: CENTRAL DATABANK
RE: NEW YEAR
MESSAGE: HAVE A HAPPY.
She considered getting up. Why bother? There was no place to go. Her home had became an enclave from which her family seldom ventured. There was no good reason to go anywhere else. They had everything they needed inside. Whatever they lacked, they could acquire by tele-shopping on the tele-screen. Their home was a womb, for a few, with a view. The view was provided on the tele-screen through the umbilical cord of the TV cable. There was little point in travelling anyway. The world culture was relatively homogeneous. It was a bit like going around the world in 80 Hiltons - each distinguished by a different decor. "Are we in the Rome Hilton, dear, or the Paris Hilton?" There were - as Holiday Inn once promised -"no surprises". Besides it was dangerous out there - gangs of neo-Luddites roamed the streets. Outside, there were surprises but only unpleasant surprises.

Nor was there anything to do. The machines did it all much more efficiently than people could. They had generated the wealth and it had been distributed to the people who had accepted to live in the government enclaves. You were registered at birth, assigned a Social Insurance Number (SIN), and the Central Databank (CDB) kept records of your needs and brand preferences and ensured that they were satisfied.

Cassandra's grandmother had cackled something about "original sin" on being asked to register. At least, Cassandra assumed it was her grandmother. She had met her only on the tele-screen by dialing her SIN number on the console. She could not clearly distinguish her, despite the superior definition of the wall-screen, from various other elderly white-haired ladies who had appeared in various entertainments on the screen. She was from the old days and was apparently referring to another use of the term according to the superstitions of her times. Some mythical story written in a discredited book. One of the CDB mottoes "(S)he who is without SIN does not exist" apparently came from this book.

Cassandra was not sure if this Grandmother was the mother of her surrogate mother or of her donor father. Her parents had not separated exactly - they had never met. She came from a pre-broken home.