Book 1, Chapter 12


When Theo finally arrives, he realizes that his meeting is with not only Xan but the entire Council. Theo is angry that Xan invited the Council and knows that he did so to disconcert Theo. Xan has now taken to wearing the former king’s coronation ring, a flashy symbol of power that—as Theo impertinently points out—Xan did not feel the need for in the past.

Theo tells the Council about the Quietus that he witnessed, and they are quick to tell him that particular Quietus was mismanaged. When Theo expresses skepticism, Felicia explains that the Quietus was begun because the elderly were already committing mass suicides that were unregulated and occasionally did not go according to plan. The Council assures Theo that, despite what he saw, the Quietus is completely voluntary. Theo then brings up the conditions on the Man Penal Colony; Xan responds that they are already aware of the situation but questions how Theo knows about it. The Council argues that criminals choose to commit crimes knowing that they will be sent to the colony. They also point out that Theo was present when they were discussing the creation of the penal colony and that he did not object at the time. On a more practical level, the Council insists that there is no one among the aging and dwindling population who is willing to go to the colony and enforce order. Theo moves on to the issue of Sojourners, but Martin quickly shuts him down by reminding him of the dangers of unrestricted immigration.

Carl finally speaks up and tells Theo that, faced with the prospect of extinction, humans no longer care about minor social ills. He argues that while other countries have reverted to...

(The entire section is 590 words.)