Authors: Lawrence Sanders
who people the pages of THE TOMORROW FILE:
ANGELA BERRI: Sophisticated in the ways of primitive sex, Angela kills as casually as she loves.
PAUL BUMFORD: Behind his rosy-cheeked innocence and innocuous manners lies a Machiavellian mind. He advocates tattooed identification numbers and rule by a scientific elite—led by himself, of course.
GRACE WINGATE: A beautiful romantic in a world of realists, Grace pursues two dreams with passion—total devotion and total surrender.
HYMAN R. LEWISOHN: Within his decaying body lives the mind of a genius, the mind that must be kept alive—at any cost.
NICHOLAS BENNINGTON FLAIR: Brilliant, damned, determined to make sense out of a senseless world he never made, Nick has one fatal flaw: he wants life to have charm—an archaic concept in the mechanized world of THE TOMORROW FILE
“A KNOCK-OUT PLOT”
West Coast Review of Books
THE FIRST DEADLY SIN THE MARLOW CHRONICLES THE PLEASURES OF HELEN THE SECOND DEADLY SIN THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT THE TANGENT FACTOR THE TANGENT OBJECTIVE THE TOMORROW FILE
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ORGANIZATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BLISS (1998)
Department of Bliss (DOB)
Prosperity Section (PROSEC)
Deputy Director (DEPDIRPRO)
Wisdom Section (WISSEC)
Deputy Director (DEPDIRWIS)
Vigor Section (VIGSEC)
Deputy Director (DEPDIRVIG)
Culture Section (CULSEC)
Deputy Director (DEPDIRCUL)
Satisfaction Section (SATSEC)
Deputy Director (DEPDIRSAT)
ORGANIZATION OF SATISFACTION SECTION, DOB
Satisfaction Section (SATSEC)
Deputy Director (DEPDIRSAT)
Division of Research & Development (DIVRAD) Assistant Deputy Director (AssDepDirRad)
Division of Security & Intelligence (DIVSEC) Assistant Deputy Director (AssDepDirSec)
Division of Data & Statistics (DIVDAT)
Assistant Deputy Director (AssDepDirDat)
Division of Law & Enforcement (DIVLAW) Assistant Deputy Director (AssDepDirLaw)
She was naked, riding without saddle. In the cold moonlight her green hair was black, her slender corpus as pliant as a rod of white plastisteel.
The thunder of hooves on hard-packed sand faded. I looked about slowly. The great earthquake of 1979 had taken up this section of coast south of San Francisco and shuffled it like a pack of stone cards. Much had been destroyed, many had perished. But the quake had created new cliffs and coves, sand beaches and clever openings through which the sea came murmuring.
Her house was above, built on stone. I sat in a kind of beach gazebo, infrared heated, and waited patiently.
I heard the sound of hooves again, thundering, thundering. . . . She reined up, the sea behind her, and slid smoothly from the stallion’s back.
She held up an arm. The em in an earth-colored zipsuit, standing behind my sling, left the gazebo and went down to her. He took the reins and led the whuffing horse away. I watched them go. That horse was partly my triumph.
In 1985, an extremely virulent form of multivectoral equine encephalitis had swept the globe. Almost 60 percent of the world’s horses had stopped. The East claimed the outbreak had started in a Maryland laboratory operated by the US Army’s Research & Engineering Section. They were working on mutant viruses. I knew
that to be operative. The East said the outbreak of encephalitis was deliberately planned. I think that was inoperative.
Fifty years previously, breeders would have despaired of replacing this epizootic loss of horse flesh in anything less than a hundred years. We did it in five. We used artificial insemination, artificial enovulation, genetic manipulation, and a new category of hormonal and enzymatic growth drugs that reduced the natural equine gestation period to three months. The program was a dramatic success.
But that wasn’t the entire reason I admired the stallion as it was led away. Because, as I saw from the first day I was assigned to the Planning Section of the SOH (Save Our Horses) Project, the same techniques we employed—a crash program to restore a grievously endangered species—could be used for the human race in the event of nukewar.
My paper outlining such a program caused considerable comment, much of it favorable. It certainly led to my present service. My name was Nicholas Bennington Flair. I was an NM (Natural Male). My official title was AssDepDirRad. That is, Assistant Deputy Director of the Division of Research & Development, of SATSEC, the Satisfaction Section, of DOB, the Department of Bliss, formerly the Department of Public Happiness, formerly the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
The ef waving her white arm at me from the beach was Angela Teresa Berri. She was DEPDIRSAT, Deputy Director of the Satisfaction Section of the Department of Bliss. She ruled me. I took up a magenta alumisilk cloak and went down to her.
When I preferred the cloak, she thrust it away with a short, angry gesture. We paced slowly down the deserted beach. Her corpus was not trembling in the chill sea wind. I guessed she had taken a mild Calorific tablet to raise her body temperature.
“Nick,” she said. Abrupt, almost rude. “Do you remember that night in Hilo, two years ago, the last night of the International Genetic Control Association meeting?”
I turned my head to look at her in astonishment. Remember? It was a silly question, and she was not a silly ef. Of course I remembered. Not because it had been a particularly memorable evening, but because it was practically impossible for me to forget anything.
Fortunate in having a superior natural memory to begin with, I also took monthly injections of Supermem, a restricted drug administered to everyone in my Division, and annually I underwent surgery for hormonal irrigation of my hippocampus and electronic stimulation of my amygdala. In addition to all this, I was an honor graduate of the GAB, the US Government’s Academy of Biofeedback, where I had majored in theta.
We strolled along the beach, her long, thin fingers on my arm. Her nipples were painted black, a tooty fashion I found profitless.
“What did we do after we left the meeting in Hilo?” she asked. Demanded.
“We stopped at the Hi-Profit Bar for a vodka-and-Smack.”
“We went down to the beach, took off our plastisandals, and waded in the wet sand back to our hotel.”
I couldn’t understand the reason for this examination. She was on Supermem too; she remembered that evening as well as I.
“And then?” she insisted.
“We went up to our suite. We used each other. We both took a Somnorific and I left in the morning to fly back to the mainland. ”
She smiled briefly, tightly, and turned me around. We went back to the gazebo. She put on her cloak then. We climbed to the house, passing a lower level of Thermaglas. Inside I saw a young em bending intently over a workbench, doing something with a portable Instaweld tank.
“Beautiful home,” I said. Our silence was beginning to disturb me as much as her questioning.
“It’s not mine,” she said. Too fast. “It belongs to a friend Who’s away. I borrowed it for my threeday. Nick, thank you for coming. You were right on time.”
We turned to smile at each other. Because, of course, I had arrived before she summoned me.
I had been in bed with Paul Thomas Bumford, my Executive Assistant. He was an AINM-A, an artificially inseminated male with a Grade A genetic rating. We had been users for five years, almost from the day he joined my Division.
Paul was shortish, fair, plump, roseate. He wore heavy makeup.
All ems used makeup, of course, but he favored cerise eyeshadow. Megatooty, for my taste.
Strangers might think him a microweight, effete, interested only in the next televised execution. In fact, he was one of the Section’s most creative neurobiologists. I was lucky to have him in DIVRAD.
It had been a dyssynaptic evening. It started with a long, angry meeting with my Chimerism Team. I had ordered them to produce a fifteen-minute cassette film on our progress to date. I had approved the preliminary script. It ended with a two-minute closeup sequence of a cloned grizzly bear cub
) that had been fitted with human hands (to provide the apposable thumb) easily performing a variety of simple mechanical tasks: picking up small screws, handling a sheet of paper, turning a valve, etc.
But the rough-cut of the film we viewed was all wrong. It was too cute. The bear cub in the experiment was a natural-born comedian. It didn’t help when the voice-over narrator kept referring to him as “Charlie.” It was an amusing film. But the intent was not to amuse. Far from it.
When the lights came on, Horvath, the team leader, an NF, and her film producer looked at me expectantly. I stared at them in silence. Paul Bumford said nothing, made no movement. He knew my moods.
Then I made the following points:
1. The experimental animal was to be referred to only by its breeding code: UH-4832-A6.
2. All shots of the bear cub cavorting were to be cut.
3. More footage would be devoted to the actual transplant, and more voice-over to the use of immunosuppressive and learning drugs developed by DIVRAD.
Then the arguments began. I let them shout. I would have my way, but they wouldn’t understand why I was so intransigent. They had no need to know. Finally, grumbling, they took their foolish film back to their lab.
“What was that all about?” Paul asked, when we were on our way to
La Bonne Vie,
one of the less execrable restaurants within the government compound.
“Obsolete history,” I said. “You weren’t in Public Service during the Presidency of Morse. He was our first scientist-President, the first Chief Executive to understand the consequences of the Biological Revolution. He had a doctorate in microbiology, you know.”
“From where?” Paul asked sharply.
“London. At the time, they were doing some marvelous things over there. Now they’re just coasting. No love. If you want input on the quality of Morse’s mind, scan a paper he delivered on July 16, 1978, at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. We have a spindle in the film library. He completely demolished the icebox theory.”
“Now you’ve lost me completely,” Paul said. “What was the icebox theory?”
“In the 1970’s, neuroscientists were becoming increasingly concerned about the political, social, ethical, and economic consequences of their service, as well they should have been. The icebox theory was suggested. Biological research wouldn’t be halted or curtailed, but discoveries would be stored away, put on ice, until the public had a chance to debate fully their possible consequences.” “The public!” Paul burst out laughing. “What the hell do they know about it?” •>
“Precisely. That’s what Morse said. He also pointed out that by putting biological discoveries in an icebox, we were condemning a lot of objects, particularly children, to pain, subnorm lives, or early stopping. But most important, he said that by keeping research completely free and unfettered, we were increasing the possibility that means might be discovered—chemical or electronic—to increase learning to the point where we
understand all the potential problems of the Biological Revolution and cope with them.”
“Yes. And he had luck. A week after his address, von Helmstadt in South Africa published his definitive study on the results of oxygenation of the fetus. Those kids could learn at an astonishing rate. It proved exactly what Morse had said. A remarkable em.” “You met him a few times, didn’t you?”
“Once. I met him once.”
It had been an early spring. We strolled along slowly. The compound was a bleak place at night—and not much more inviting during the day. The wide cement walks had been intersected with squares of green plastigrass. There were a few plastirub trees, some bearing wax fruit. The floodlights went on automatically at dusk, freezing everything in a white glare. And the fence, of course: chainlink with triple strands of barbed wire at top. A total of six double gates, with guardhouses.
“How did Morse stop?” Paul asked. “Assassinated?”
“Never been definitely determined,” I lied. “A lot of rumors. Anyway, on the day he took office, Morse started working on the Fertility Control Act. We
to have it. First of all, it insured zero population growth by federal licensing of procreation. But in addition to Z-Pop, it gave us the beginnings of genetic control by law. Morse finally got the FCA passed a few months before he stopped in 1990. And ever since, obsos have tried to chip away at it. The latest is an amendment that would allow unlicensed breeding between natural ems and natural efs.”