The “0” in the title is pronounced “naught,” of course, and is the number that people dial when they are ready for an assisted suicide. This is common in this future earth since people pretty much live indefinitely and that means terrible overpopulation. To control this population problem, anytime a child is born, the parents must secure someone to dial the number or the child cannot live. In this story, the father-to-be is having triplets but has only one person to dial 2BR02B.
In the vein of so many other science fiction stories, science and technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams (humans are nearly immortal), but it comes at a great cost (people must be killed in order to make room for new births) and society in general accepts this as okay and doesn’t at all question the morality of the situation. It’s an overly practical resolution to a serious problem: if the earth reaches its human saturation point and people no longer die natural deaths, what can be done?
This story is extremely short but nevertheless contains classic Vonnegut dry humor and weary outlook on the fate of humanity with just a trace of hope. If you’re a fan of Vonnegut, look this story up.
Review by Jessica A.