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THE ASYMPTOTIC ATTITUDE DAVID E. DAVIS and PHYLLIS C. BRADBURY* He reluctantly started up the marble stairs of the National Population Administration. He moved like a youth, although he was now about 35. He still was an active athlete and participated in strenuous sports. As he trudged up the stairs, he reviewed the recent events. On Friday, Great-Grandfather had died and would have to be replaced. All through the ceremonies of the Last Farewell he had worried about his fate; indeed, he hardly heard the service. He had been born the third great-grandson. All his life he had been confident that he would escape his present fate. His cousins, Ranald and Athlan, were the logical ones to provide Great-Grandfather 's replacement. But the old man had lived longer than he should have. Ranald was 50 now, really past the age for fatherhood . Athlan, showing unmistakable signs of instability, only 6 months ago had divorced Reicia. Therefore, no alternative was available ; great-grandsire had to be replaced. If he had only thought ahead, the catastrophe that was now upon him could have been predicted . Even if it could not be evaded, at least he and LoRae could have had a little time to prepare themselves. It was bad enough for him, but for LoRae it was a tragedy. One Monday had come the notice from the Local Reproduction Board that a BABY (a boy of course) would have to be produced. He must report within 5 days. He and LoRae both realized that an appeal to the board was futile. Now their very successes told against them. They were both in superb health. In these times women could look like girls well into their sixties, and LoRae was not giving an inch to age. Thanks to long oil baths and 2 hours of exercise a day, LoRae looked like a 16-year-old in any light. And their intellectual achievements overshadowed those of the lucky cousins. He was al- * Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine ยท Summer 1973 | 625 ready a professor, although most of his students were older than he. LoRae's mathematical researches were widely praised, and her next promotion would put her at the head of the research team. Life had been very sweet, he thought bitterly. They had no basis whatever for an appeal. The state considered them Fit to Reproduce, and they must adjust to the destruction of their lives that a baby would bring. Now he was coming to the National Population Administration for the injection. The Sterility Clinic on the main floor had an empty little room with a sign over its door, "Fertility Section." He could not let himself meet the compassionate glances of the happy crowd of patients at the Sterility Clinic. He remembered from his own regular visits to the clinic how he had pitied the few wretches compelled to enter this little room. And now from the bottom of his heart he envied those slender pretty girls and carefree men, and the rich productive lives they could continue living. The technician gave him his instructions, averting her eyes from his miserable face. She could never get hardened to this cruel duty. The injection would make him fertile in 4 days. The pills for his wife would make her fertile at that time, and a boy would be conceived on the sixth day. He must then return to the clinic for his sterility injection. Failure to return would bring severe penalties. The next few weeks were almost unbearable. Work and pleasure alike lost their savor. And, of course, the blow had fallen harder on LoRae. She was no longer sleek and soignee. She kept stealing anxious glances at herself in the mirror, waiting for the ugly swelling to start to show. The only course open to her was to appear dutiful and submissive to what was, after all, a kind of honor. Not every grandsire was replaced, and even with today's highly selected population, not every couple was Fit to Reproduce. They had never known anyone really well who had had to reproduce . He and LoRae had paired...


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