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     Man's independence, even his independence to make mistakes, is more important to him than any arbitrary controls directed toward a universal, undifferentiated state of "happiness." Every man is proud of "his best" and resents any attempt to change his life into a stereotyped norm.

     Actual physical characteristics are not important since the characters are only abstractions of the "victim", the "mature", and the "immature".
     A. REPORTEE: Alund: Young man of vivid imagination and an unyielding dislike for an outwardly-imposed rigidity---though his inability to voluntarily accept change reflects his own straitened personality. Two-dimensional in that his thoughts do not directly influence the plotting: he's the subject of the specific and generalized thoughts of the
     B. CONTROLLER: An older retiring man who's come to feel like a father toward Alund. In his older years his intellectual powers are being gradually overshadowed by his emotional reactions to his Reportees. He wants to help his Reportees, but like a doting father he has a tendency to spoil his "children", rather than live up to the philosophy of the "system". His years have taught him patience, but his increasing separation from the generation following his leads him to mistrust and suspect the intelligence of those younger than he. He feels a fear and a reluctance to turn over his Reportees to the
     C. TRAINEE: A young man (early thirties) who is still immature and prone to quick, thoughtless actions. Impatient and too eager to try his own, somewhat revolutionary, ideas. Slightly cynical, rather suspicious of the older Controller, anxiously ready to take over the Reportee as his own, yet alert enough to realize that he still has much of the mechanics, if not the theories, of the "system" to learn from his trainer, the Controller.
     D. SUPERVISOR: The ominous spector, lurking, representing the control of the "system".

     A. TIME: The unspecified very far future, distant enough to have allowed the following technological changes and advances:
          1. A system of reporting for every human being in the world. Once a week each person must "talk out" his likes, dislikes, wishes, dreams, frustrations, inhibitions, and loves, to an Imago which represents the perfect love-image to the Reportee. The Imago, controlled partially by the Controller, partially by the Computer, then advises, consoles, arbitrates, questions, and seeks to bring about "happiness through understanding" in the Reportee.
          2. The Infitron Beam, composed of the basic building blocks of matter and energy, which can be used as
               a. A "locator" to describe and indentify people,
               b. A "creator" to materialize the Reportee's wishes and
                    to construct his surrounding and Imago, and
               c. An "operator" to change and reconstruct thoughts and
                    emotions in the individual.
          3. A computer system complex enough to form the basis of information retrieval necessary for a successful reporting system.
     B. PLACE: The settings themselves are not important.
          1. The cubical Reporting Chamber, where the mind of the Reporteee, governed by the Controller, has full power over the surroundings through the Infitron Beams which come from all sides.
          2.The Controller's chamber, where the Controller and Trainee sit, confronted by panels, switches, and dials revealing the mental and physical states of the Reportee. Over the dials is a three-dimensional image of the Reportee, as if he were seated face-to-face with the Controller, who takes the place of the Imago.

     A. BEGINNING: The Reportee enters the Reporting Chamber, is identified by the Infitron Beam, and shows his contempt for the system by changing the furniture in the chamber into many different shapes. The Controller explains the system to the Trainee, who shows his impatience by "Freezing" the Reportee, symbolizing the Trainee's desire to have more complete control than the current Controller is willing to exert. The Controller gives Alund's background to the Trainee, and shows that he is impatient with the Trainee's eagerness.
     B. MIDDLE: While the Trainee convinces himself that the Controller's guidance is too lenient, the Controller is given the chance to realize that the system's guidance may be more strict that he had intended it to be. It should be in doubt that the Controller actually DOES control the system, even though the Controller tells the Trainee that the Controller is actually the most important part of the system.
     C. END: The Controller explains the need for continuity and sympathy for the Reportee, but the Trainee climaxes his thoughts by reflecting, erroneously, that "When the NEW model of the system is created, there will be more direct control over the Reportee." Actually, however, the implication is that the system already has absolute control, delegated through a staggering hierarchy of Controllers.