I read this book about 9/5/2016. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1942. This note was last modified Monday, 24-Oct-2016 21:52:12 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Read for a discussion in the Facebook Heinlein forum.
This ends up being just detailed notes of what I saw reading, rather than any kind of essay.
Copyright is 1942 for magazine, 1948 for book. I have no idea what the differences are. Gutenberg doesn't seem to have this magazine version :-) .
Page refs are Signet T4211 paperback ($0.75), 10th printing.
Opening quote, not attributed (italic centered paragraph under chapter heading), implies things should be utopian but people aren't happy.
First two short paragraphs have: "code" to open the door, biometrics (face recognition), these things combined with somebody being in the room and authorizing entry (I wouldn't normally expect the door to be left locked if the occupant was present in an office), slidewalk, and a door "dilating".
This seems to be the source that all those references to doors dilating point back to.
The character we first see is "Hamilton Felix". Those seem to be in the wrong order; that theory will be reinforced below.
The director of the Office of Analysis and Prediction is Monroe-Alpha Clifford. "Alpha" immediately sounds not like a name, and indicating special quality. The name order sounds not normal, maybe it's following the "other" pattern of family name first and personal name second; in that case "Monroe-Alpha" is an inherited caste position, essentially.
Inherited caste positions are always bad, right?
But...our protagonist doesn't have any such indicator? This bureaucrat is tagged as superior? Then again, our guy is casually stopping in to chat with the Director who has a locked door, and he's admitted immediately.
"The 6 principles of humor." But in a context that establishes that Clifford, who prides himself on his sense of humor, doesn't actually understand humor.
"Elder Brother, hear me. Living Spirit of Reason, attend Thy servant." "Don't be irreverant." Something like religion, I guess, but pretending to be focused on "reason".
Clifford runs his projections two ways, and counts on the computer to be right—but runs them two ways anyway. Recent news suggests Excel users should be that careful!
Monroe-Alpha's "computer" is clearly analog—possibly a hybrid mechanical-electrical analog computer. There was a reference to the "integrating accumulator" on the previous page.
And what if nobody ran such a central accumulator? Apparently the economy would revert to boom and bust cycles, and perhaps it would even lead to war (which is economically motivated at bottom, it's implied).
His purpose is basically to track economic activity accurately enough to allow the policy board to "change its symbol structure" (adjust the money supply) to accurately reflect the economic situation. Because "in a stable economy, debt-free new currency must be equated to the net re-investment."
"Pay-restauraunt." As opposed to the refectory. Specializing in bad food, it claims --I think we're supposed to assume that even good food is something people want variety from, but I have to class tha as crazy.
And "ortho-wife." Not defined yet, but we've been told family structures aren't the same as today.
And Felix has a new sidearm. Clifford hadn't noticed, though of course he would have noticed if his friend had been unarmed.
It's essentially a museum antique, and there's brief discussion of the alternatives, and the difference between pointing and hitting vs. activating your bem and then chopping into the target.
It's something unusual. It has a magazine that can be removed, and Felix says that's pulled its teeth. Which means he doesn't carry one in the chamber, which means he's not serious about using it. Ahem.
And he proposes a contest in the office. He apparently doesn't have any idea of the penetrating power of the slug from a .45.
The bullet ricochets around the room, so maybe Felix is right about the safety to others of having this contest. Much solider walls than our offices have!
And the noise startled Clifford so much he didn't even shoot.
So, they go to the pay restaurant.
And Felix is rich. He can't help making money, it says here. (The bouillabaisse is all natural foodstuffs.)
Felix makes his money somehow with games, apparently. Clifford isn't much interested in games, but respects the money. Felix isn't actually interested in the games either, he just sees ways to complicate the popular ones he sees, and sometimes writes up the ideas and sends them to his agent.
And Clifford is unhappy, properly categorized in the sourpuss survey. The family therapist can't find out why. (Given "ortho-wife", not sure therapists should be assigned at the "family" level.)
Felix suggests there's nothing wrong with Clifford, and, by implication, that there's something wrong with his environment.
Clifford is a "deviant", which seems to mean his genetic expression isn't what the geneticists expected, but they can't trace any specific mutation. Is this why he's unhappy?
And there are "control naturals". Apparently it's a sorry fate, with bad eyes, being subject to many filthy diseases, and having their teeth fall out. We, of course, are control naturals.
Clifford should be happy—three times the income he can spend, and work of his own choosing that he loves and which is respected. But he's not happy.
And the seafood goes over the railing! We now get to see social mores not between friends, and learn more about the dueling culture.
Felix handles the problem, and avoids dueling the man whose table the seafood landed on—he describes the cause as "my clumsiness", owns the fault, and assures the man it was accidental.
Then a yahoo across the room insults Felix. This one ends in the yahoo getting shot, then and there. Establishing that Felix carries the .45 with a round chambered, which the earlier handling of it argued against.
And, at the noise, "every armed man" in the place rises and draws, but nobody fires. We've just learned that women don't participate in this dueling culture (the two women at the table the crab leg fell on didn't either).
We see that the yahoo was actually intending to provoke a fight with the man on the floor; it was an accident he got involved with Felix. There's some "one of us" talk, indicating they're part of a larger group of some sort.
After Clifford goes off to his date, Felix tries to find "professional entertainment." I'm not clear if that's a euphemism for a prostitute in this world or now. Whatever it means, he doesn't succeed, which means capitalism is once again not doing its job.
So he goes people-watching, and gives us a bit of a tour of the society. People wearing brassards (meaning unarmed non-combatants) are rare and nearly always out for work, people both armed and wearing brassards are police monitors.
He wonders why everybody else is there—and then notes that he's there himself to watch the others.
Later that night, he gets into a discussion with Herbert, the bartender in the small bar he's closing down. Herbert turns out to be a control natural, surprisingly. No children, and Felix has no children but proposes a toast to children. Money and children are what matters, he says.
Herbert doesn't have children because the eugenics board couldn't find anything to improve in their children. Not that he and his wife ar so superior; but they're missing most of the minor annoyances, and don't have any real potential for reaching competitive levels in anything by selecting among the existing genes. So planned children would be uncompetitive with other planned children.
(And he and his wife are "first truthers" who don't hold with these modern arrangements, presumably meaning "ortho-wives" and such.)
Also, Herbert cuts him off (offers to take his gun, rather than his car keys). Given the mention of serious piles of cups around his place, I have to think he as far beyond what current MN law allows for blood alcohol while carrying.
Telephone ringing when Felix gets home. He cuts it off verbally, using the phrase he's configured it to respond to.
His bed is a waterbed, but it starts empty and fills under him. It's referred to as "warm", so the water isn't just out of the tap. For a non-hospital bed I don't see why Heinlein thought it needed to fill after you were in it, and he apparently had no experience with real waterbeds (certainly not in 1942) to think that filling would be so quick. (This predates the reference in Stranger by nearly 20 years.)
He sets the bed for an "ample" 5 hours of sleep. And it drains and leaves him on the "spongy" bottom to wake him up. Maybe that's why it drains and fills?
His shower does a range of spray densities and temperatures, air blasts (at controlled temperatures) and soap sprays. He picks a particular cycle, one of his own design. The rest of the cycle includes drying, massage, shaving, and perfume (not all standing in the shower, though).
Breakfast includes "sweet-lemon juice" and, sigh, coffee.
Felix has an interest in the resort Diana's Playground on Luna. In Leyburg, and the newscaster mentions that Ley might just show up for this (from the dead; it's hyperbole).
Felix seems to have at least designed the gaming machines for the resort. He calls the manager after watching the newscast, which doesn't make the opening look as good as he'd hoped it would be. There's a 3-second lag in the conversation. My calculation is 2.56 second, and that's at "average" distance, the maximum is somewhat greater, so 3 seconds isn't necessarily wrong.
[page 22] They start redesgning some of the less sucessful games right there on the phone.
He sees an invitation to the District Moderator for Genetics offices, in just half an hour (it's a stat, been sitting there while he ignored it). He decides to go.
The Moderator's staff is mostly female, smart, and beautiful. Well, no; he lists their appearance first, then their intelligence.
Wait, he has a cigarette? First mention I remember.
The moderator turns out to be the man he didn't duel with the previous night, but entirely by accident. They avoid shooting at each other. I keep wondering if this is often too easy; they're in a situation where the loser may well be dead, and they have to avoid being too twitchy. I felt the same way when everyone in the room drew after the .45 went off in the restaurant.
Turns out the moderator, Mordann Claude, is hugely fast with his gun, and it's a very good thing they didn't fight (but then, neither wanted to, both were mature enough to avoid accidentally getting forced into it).
They want Felix to have children, because of his blood-line.
There was a First Genetic War. Which implies at least a Second, too.
We seem to be talking selection, rather than actual genetic engineering, but even that leaves plenty of room for choosing the wrong things.
The Atomic War of 1970 was before that First Genetic War. In the aftermath of that, we leapt on the gene-selection techniques to breed sheep rather than wolves. The Northwest Union resists, eventually fights the rest of the world, and of course wins. So this society is descended from wolves, not sheep.
Apparently "fighting spirit" is good, and the people who bred it out were wrong. Now, my experience is that wanting to fight is a highly negative sign, but hey, I'm not writing this book.
Felix raises that point, and Claude points out that the fighters survived. Yeah, not sure that would work out the way they describe, but I guess it might if you managed to breed in real pacifism (which I have always despised).
The Second Genetic war was when the Great Khan's bred specialized super-warriors. They lost too, because specialization isn't the winning human strategy.
3000 types. The fighters really were good, three times the strength, didn't need sleep, etc. But all real direction came from the top, and a few dozen assassinations settled things (well, they then appear to have performed a complete genocide on all models of homo proteus, with no samples kept in labs surfacing later).
Deaf Smith County had soil rich in phosphates a fluorides, and the residents had much better teeth than normal.
Providing those palliatives to a wider population is the wrong approach—what was wanted was people who had good teeth despite bad conditions. Because the genetic line is what matters. (Early anti-fluoridation argument, I guess, though no mention of precious bodily fluids.)
Felix figured out young that he wanted to be an ecyclpedic synthesist, because they ultimately ran the world (everybody on the Board of Policy is one, though it doesn't sound like it's required, and they're elected).
But, as it turns out, he doesn't have eidetic memory, so he can't ever, possibly, be a synthesist. Looks like he has taken this hard; nothing else is big enough to engage his attention, and he can't do this.
Oops; humans don't have 48 chromosome pairs. They have 46. (It was the best number at the time, I believe I've heard. Happens to be correct for chips, too.)
Basic genetic laws. I suppose more people probably had to be told about them in 1942.
The idea of using the paired opposite gametes produced for selection -- you destroy one by analyzing it, and that tells you exactly what's in the other.
Laying out the methods and rules for genetic selection in The Republic.
Clifford is not paying much attention to his ortho-wife. Mind you, except for choice of clothes, there's no indication there's really anything there to pay attention to. But she calls him on it.
Huh; he was more interested where she was sitll dancing. Neither of them have any big complaints, but there's no chemistry there any more, is what it sounds like.
Dr. Thorgsen has been away 10 years (on Pluto)—and doesn't have the modern style of formal politeness down pat. He's not even armed, I think. This kind of suggests it's a very recent change in society.
It's a big party. Pattern dancing will come later, meaning that ballrooms that big are common enough, even though this residence has been described as an extreme of conspicuous consumption.
Discussion of releasing the Adirondack statis field—apparently somebody a few centuries ago left a stasis field. People think it might work, but peole apparently don't understand the theory and cna't make more to experiment with. In other words, it has "plot coupon" stamped all over it.
The plaque on the field says specimens from 1926. For a story set in 1942 that's a bit strange; it would have to already be in place, and we had no such technology then (or now).
A yammerhead gets all lyrical about tilling the land with your woman at your side, as we did in 1926. Well, quite a few of us still did. And, he's sure, they were happier than people today. Well, Clifford and Felix are both unhappy for causes not really yet understood. Clifford even has an important, meaningful, job.
Clifford goes to talk further with Gerald, the yammerhead; he likes the ideas, apparently (but then, he thinks "three children" and doesn't think of infant deaths and still births, and he thinks maybe skins tanned on the door of their barn).
This has come past before but "burned" is the terminology for shooting somebody, even though even the modern beam weapons aren't all just heat beams (there's a coagulator mentioned in that first discussion).
Felix is approached by a friend of the man he had the duel with, who is explaining that it was a "mistake". That makes no sense with what Felix knows, and he's objecting to that term. But of course, it was an accident, in a conspiracy to assassinate the genetic moderator Claude. (The coincidence of running into all parties to the conflict in only a few days does seem a bit thin.)
We have a hypothetical plan backed by "tough-minded" men. That's the code for "willing to break eggs", as I understand it. Men who will smash anything that gets in their way. Men you do NOT want in charge.
He makes an appointment to meet at half-past 2—in the morning—in a room at the Hall of the Wolf. Apparently that's a club everybody is a member of; it makes a convenient rendezvous.
Clifford spots a girl and instantly becomes obssessed with her, is how this description reads. He loses his disinterest. The dance brings them together briefly, he manages to trip and fall, and she's off.
So just then Dr. Thorgsen finds him.
With a perfect project—long term, interesting, and economically useless. One of the risks of subsidizing pure science is that so often it ends up being economically productive, which just makes the problem of distributing the surplus harder.
The woman Claude has picked for Felix shows up to visit, and annoys him. She's armed (apparently legal but not conventional), and he disapproves of "independent women", saying they want the privileges but not the responsibilities. She pretty much hands him his head, which is nice; though the discussion is mostly fact-free so we don't actually know who is right.
He manages to tackle her and take away her gun (and throw it away), and pins her hands and slaps her face and decides to kiss her. This is rather problematic—as is of course the whole convention of women not going armed in that society. Gender essentialism raises its very ugly head. It's Heinlein's biggest failing.
The gun comes back out of the trash, but he'll ship it rather than her taking it with her (negotiated agreement). They're having dinner, but this leaves her wandering around all day without a gun and without a brassard?
The Adirondack Stasis has been opened, and there was a living man in it. Clifford hs absorbed stupid ideas about noble savages, and I don't think Heinlein, in 1942, could have missed the romanticization of the Native Americans by a lot of us not all that long before.
Ah; Claude did not sic Phyllis on Felix. This does seem to confirm his idea that there's a spy of some sort in Claude's office, since she learned of his existence and of the match and was able to find him.
Felix views Norbert and the Hall of the Wolf meeting as representing a revolutionary clique, dangerous enough that he felt he had to take their oath or be killed. I don't think being killed actually happens very much in that society other than in duels. (The group is called the Survivor's Club.)
Even these amateur revolutionaries have noticed how their policies look like the Great Khan's. Their explanation is fiddly claims to better principles, though, nothing substantive.
Claude accuses Felix of approving of our culture as it is, and Felix can't manage a full frontal denial (though he does repeat his own personal doubts about purpose).
Claude takes his assistant Martha out of the office to tell her Felix's news.
They do already know about this conspiracy, but hadn't known there was a leak in the office. Claude says it must be a man, since this conspiracy doesn't consider the interests of women. Is this gender essentialism or shrewd observation?
It kind of sounds like the job of directing the evolution of the race is closely tied to the job of keeping things on an even keel—like Claude is more than just a genetic consultant.
And a "brother" who broke Survivor's Club security is executed on the spot after a short trial, at a meeting at which all junior members are required to be present.
Felix is advancing fast. He's a "star" line, after all; he'll end up leader in any group he joins if he makes much of any effort, and just the effort he's making to look like a loyal member is showing results.
Yeah, this concentration on blood lines really bugs me. It's never been tied to anything good in human history (when applied to humans; it's very normal for breeders of plants and animals of course).
Felix is seeing Phyllis regularly. She's a "practical psycho-pediatrician". I can't yet tell if that means day-care worker or expert medical specialist.
As a "working woman", which meant 4 hours a day, 7 days a week, 40 weeks a year. That 7 days a week bit seems harsh, though maybe with only 4 hours of work it's not too bad, and if she's caring for babies daily the continuity will be good for them.
Felix doesn't like children, at least in groups, and so Phyllis's job bothers him a little. He thinks of it as facing groups of children daily, so it sounds more like day-care worker than medical specialist.
J. Darlington Smith, "the Man From The Past", is the man that came out of the Adirondack stasis field. He's in the news a bit.
And then suddenly Smith's guardian requests a meeting for Smith with Felix. I remember it's going to be about reviving ancient games.
It's kind of elegant how Heinlein starts letting us just see for ourselves how the John Darlington Smith story is full of things Felix doesn't understand, after pointing out a few at first.
So Darlington was tricked into the field (he asked for a 5-minute trial), and he stayed there a LOT more than 25 years as discussed. Clearly Thadeus Johnson is responsible for the first bit, not clear yet about the second.
I'm guessing 10 shares each of a few blue chip stocks from 1926 won't be worth much in this far-future changed economy after at least three major wars.
Felix explaining modern finance to Smith (I find I'm not comfortable calling him "John" when he was initially introduced as J. Darlington Smith) is something. Language not meaning what is expected, the ideas having drifted. Of course the 1926 ideas are close to our own, and the future ones aren't.
In particular, many "financial conservatives" are still stuck in the 1920s ideas of finance.
So, now Smith tries to explain football to Felix. Felix thinks it would improve the game to have the players kill each other sometimes. I think he actually means it. I think they don't value human life much in their dueling culture.
And Norbert shows up to summon Felix to the Hall of the Wolf that night again.
And the bunghole theory of child rearing appears again. Probably a contributing factor to why I don't have children. Despite the frequent references, Heinlein seems to have wanted children himself.
Date with Phyllis, at another pay restaurant, in a private room. Private rooms were discussed at the first restaurant meal with Clifford, also. It would really reduce the density of restaurants to provide a lot of private rooms, and make them even more expensive.
Discussion of child-rearing philosophy, and Phyllis treats touch as very important to babies. That seems to actually match where we've gotten to over time.
Felix has already seen genetically altered kids, and doesn't like them at all (even feels a bit sorry for them it sounds like, and he doesn't like kids in general).
Eurasia and Africa are populated by scatterd barbarian tribes trying to struggle back to civilization after the Second War (I guess that's the Second Genetic War).
Oh, great. Clifford turns up as a more-junior member at the Survivor's Club meeting.
Mmmm, the change is upon them! Revolution starts tonight.
Felix tries to get Clifford assigned to him to protect him, and just puts him in greater danger. Well, yeah; it was a blatant mistake, and after all this time (days!) and special training he's somehow failed to grasp how little this group cares for life.
Felix is assigned to kill Claude. This suggests Claude is more important than what we've really seen (there were hints of it). Actually, the fact that they put a synthesist in that job also argues how important it is. This will make telling Claude that the revolution is kicking off easier (of course Claude will know earlier, he knows about the group).
Clifford isn't going to react well to realizing Felix is actually on the other side.
And Felix gets the "go" order, at Clifford's.
Hitting people in the head is never safe, especially with hard metal objects like a gun. Especially with a single-action semi-auto that you carry in condition 3.
Yep, Claude knew, probably before Felix.
Clifford gets sent off in a self-flying air car heading due south, having been given three sleeping pills. Felix goes into Claude's office, but our attention is taken back to Clifford.
And Clifford has pretty much a mystical experience in the redwood forest (General Sherman tree). He's wrong about it being the oldest tree though, at least today (it may be in the fictional world, perhaps the bristlecone pines were all killed somehow).
And he runs into the mysterious young woman from the dance at the top of a cliff he was planning to jump from. (Cliff is claimed to have 1000 meters drop; yikes! Moro Rock; we're in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.) He's in such a state that the coincidence doesn't strike him as bizarre (or dangerous). I don't think I've ever been in such a state, and find them a bit hard to believe short of severe trauma or other damage.
Doesn't look like the 1000 meter drop is real. At least, the topographic prominence is a bit under 100 meters—maybe it's just a typo of an extra zero?
In case nobody noticed, I'll remark that this book is written using metric measurements (I notice a numeric temperature hasn't been mentioned).
The girl gives a hint that she's a control natural, but Clifford misses it.
And we're told it's a religious conversion, with different terminology. Clifford misses it, so the narrator has to tell us directly. I almost get an implication that comparing it to religious belief is the way Heinlein is emphasizing that it's wrong.
And she sneezes, and now Clifford realizes what she is. Oops!
"It was the first non-human animal he had ever killed." A mule deer, killed accidentally while trying to kill the girl, who had disarmed him and run without bothering to collect his gun (stupid!).
I'm still doubtful about the viability of a society where it was a common experience to have killed somebody in a duel. Quie a high attrition rate. I wonder if actually the brassarded are 90% of society or something, and nobody really cares about the idiots with the guns?
The car won't let him crash into a mountain, which is good. Seems to use its own radar; computer interpretatoin of primary radar images is hard!
Claude hasn't anticipated a section being sent to take the clinic after Felix kills him. Seems dumb to miss that the clinics are key to a plan that's all about breeding slave races.
They do hold out in the clinic until the monitors gas the whole place (Felix thinks it's the Survivors who got them, but I'm sure it isn't).
Felix waking up is rather reminiscent of some of the mystical passages in Stranger.
The revolutionaries were genetically poor types. At least the leaders were. And they lacked the imagination to understand what running a society could possibly entail. I'm not absolutely clear why this explains the revolution failing immediately, though.
Either I read this page while glancing at the book, or Heinlein has reused sentences from ealier in the book.
Claude is proposing serious research into life after death, which is offensive nonsense.
And now Felix remembers Clifford.
"Women will forgive anything. Otherwise the race would have died out long ago."
Planning board seems to be supporting the silly investigative proposal.
No survival afer death leads to hedonism, and the possibility of survival leads to greater things? This is the bit I find offensive about mysticism. The "greater things" are those made up by the people who invented your particular mysticism, and are in no way greater than any other. But people thinking together about what we want to do are the best we have for going somewhere.
They're barred from meddling in the spiritual—but this investigation is scientific, not spiritual, the religious leader on the Board says. Cold hard-headed investigations of religious dogma are of course the most subversive thing one can ever do, but somehow that's being missed.
Perhaps they should tackle all the "problems" of philosophy.
Everybody knows there's something to telepathy? Yeah, maybe; selective attention.
"He who crawls cannot stumble."
And Clifford does eventually find Marion, who has been waiting for him to turn up.
And after declaring he'd happily marry her as a control natural, finds out she's actually an experimental type, working to conserve some recent favorable mutations.
So after the brave words against racism and such, he doesn't actually have to sacrifice any principles after all.
Espartero Carvalla, the very old control natural and rather witchy woman from the Policy Board wants to visit Phyllis, and she's very spooked. That's actually reasonable, even the people on the Board seem a bit spooked by Carvalla.
Oh, and Phyllis is pregnant.
Felix reminds himself, again, that he is not his gene chart. He feels his own self-knowledge is much superior to Claude's from his gene chart. The book, of course, is busily engaged in proving him wrong.
Felix is intellectually engaged in the great project of figuring out mysticism scientifically. (This can't end well!)
"There had to be more to a man than that." There's rampant prejudice for you.
Just noticed that the Connemara album playing is "Beyond the Horizon".
Subsidizing an entertainment tour of the research establishments on the other planets (and moons) is something the Board can subsidize the longstanding policy forbidding participation in entertainment, luxuries, or fine arts. That sounds exactly like the commerce clause in the US constitution—a big hole through which anything can squirt. (If research and exploration are necessary then the morale of the people involved is a government matter.)
"Demoralized and finally exterminated by their own sense of inferiority in the presence of the colonizing Anglish." In reference to the Australian aborigines. Not something you'd say today, and that doesn't seem to be the path things are actually on. It's weird reading science fiction 70+ years after it was written sometimes.
At least they were thinking of themselves as possibly on the receiving end of this problem, if they made contact with an advanced species.
Arrhenius had nice theories. And Heinlein's future had found validation for them, life on all planets, even Pluto.
The Martians were advanced, but degenerated so much a half-witted dog could cheat them at cards. There's a warning for other races that have a high opinion of themselves!
Carvalla suggests a name for the hypothetical second child Felix and Phyllis will have, a girl of course.
Various posturing about evolutionary biology and child-rearing. What Phyllis prefers is kind of at nadir in current practice, but I think we're reversing, having clearly gone crazily too far.
Theobald starts to show remarkable focus, at least when he sees personal advantage.
And eidetic memory.
But encountering the allegorical use of symbols at 42 months doesn't work out. Theobald remains somewhat confused.
Theobald must correct people when they're wrong, which is frequently, mostly about total trivia. Felix thinks he's going to have to be very fast with a gun when he grows up. And can apparently think that without fear.
And he's starting to remember things he hasn't seen. Damned mysticism rearing it's ugly head again.
Also telepathy, indicaed by scratching right where Felix itched.
Math taught backwards—starting with calculus, putting arithmetic off until later since it was boring and repetitive. This is kind of related to New Math, which kind of doesn't work for more people than it does.
John Smith gets challenged—he broke an armed man's nose (and if anybody were really paying attention they'd wonder how he managed that; he doesn't play football because he's not up to current athletic standards, he just owns the leagues).
This leads to discussing the custom with Claude. Not very convincingly, and they somehow avoid mentioning statistics.
Carvala comes back to see Theobald again. She's known to be in failing health (it's been 4 years).
Theobald is definitely telepathic. Oh, and Carvala died shortly after her visit.
Theobald identifies his coming baby sister as Carvala.
And Felix is happy because he feel he has evidence there is life after death (okay, ego continuity before and after life on Earth). The telepath machine agreed with Theobald in reading things from Justina, before she was born, that she could not possibly have known.
I don't know why Felix understands this a our getting "a second chance" though.
Birth scrambles those early memories, though, so one has no real continuity to any previous or future state. So what's the point? In fact, it makes things infinitely worse as I see it—it opens up the possibility of any and all religions being true, and they make the post-death time infinitely more important than lifetime (some of them) -- and they disagree, and there's no way to generate any confidence about what might be right.