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I'm struggling to remember a story that I know I read. There's a small chance it was a story being told within a larger narrative, but I'm reasonably certain it was a stand-alone short story.

The premise is that astronomers discover a planet that seems to contain the reincarnated dead. They determine this by spotting several famous people - Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, etc.

If I recall, they also determine that you only get there after a certain amount of suffering or rebirths, so a decision is made on a global scale to speed up the process through a program of global euthanasia. If there's no more rebirth, well, everyone gets to go to paradise, right?

Some countries (especially poorer ones in Africa and South America) don't cooperate, so the governments of the world...help them along. Domestically, they issue cyanide pills to citizens.

The story is told from the point of view of a teenage girl who lives in the suburbs with her parents and younger brother. The parents decide the whole family will go together using the "running car in a closed garage" trick. The girl escapes and goes to meet with her boyfriend, and the stinger at the end is (I think) that she's pregnant, and therefore the cycle will continue anyway.

  • 1
    Sounds cheerful. – Valorum Jun 1 '18 at 11:01
  • 1
    When did you read this? – Radhil Jun 1 '18 at 11:32
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This is "Obsolete", one of the stories in the novel Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk.

The premise is that astronomers discover a planet that seems to contain the reincarnated dead. They determine this by spotting several famous people - Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, etc.

It was the stupid space program that had started all this. The manned mission to explore the planet Venus. The crew sent back their video of the planet surface, the face of Venus as this garden paradise. [...] The same way that World War II gave us the ballpoint pen, the space program had proved the human soul was immortal.

If I recall, they also determine that you only get there after a certain amount of suffering or rebirths, so a decision is made on a global scale to speed up the process through a program of global euthanasia. If there's no more rebirth, well, everyone gets to go to paradise, right?

According to government estimates, as many as 1,760,042 human souls were already freed and living a party lifestyle on the planet Venus. The rest of humanity would have to live on through a long series of lifetimes, of suffering, before they were refined enough to emigrate. Going around, eroding in the Big Rock Tumbler.

Then the government had its big brainstorm: If all of humanity died at once, then there would be no wombs and no way to reincarnate souls here on Earth. If humanity went extinct, then we’d all emigrate to Venus. Enlightened or not.

Some countries (especially poorer ones in Africa and South America) don't cooperate, so the governments of the world...help them along.

Until a couple days ago, you could watch on television as the emigration movement dealt with people who were still noncompliant. You could watch the backward populations that weren’t enrolled in the movement, you could see them being forced to emigrate by Emigration Assistance Squads, dressed all in white, carrying clean white machine guns. Whole screaming villages, carpet-bombed to relocate them to the next step in the process.

  • Ding ding ding. We have a winner. Thanks. I never would've remembered Haunted when going through all the anthologies I'd read. – E. Burke Jun 2 '18 at 7:29

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