Thursday, September 12, 2013

Case Study No. 0983: Members of the Supreme Exchange

The last Librarian: Edward G. Robinson
Soylent Green, 1973, Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson as the last librarian in the near future world of 2022. LOFT Report, California state polytechnic University, Pomona. Cal Poly, pomona, University Library, Michael Ortiz, Martin DenBore, Book Dumping, Fahrenheit 451, Bruce Emerton, Librarian. Book Burning. Library of the Future, The Future of the Library
Tags: Soylent Green 1973 Pomona. Cal Poly pomona University Library Michael Ortiz Martin DenBore Book Dumping Fahrenheit 451 Bruce Emerton The Future of the Library
Added: 3 months ago
From: blemerton
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[Detective Robert Thorn (while shaving) is speaking with a "Police Book" named Sol Roth]
THORN: What did you dig up in those cases I gave you?
[he takes out a list and begins reading off names]
ROTH: "Matthewson. Murder" ... Out of your jurisdiction. Across the city line at Philadelphia.
[he paces around the room]
ROTH: "Chergov. Murder" ... Went home yesterday.
[he puts the list down on a table]
ROTH: "Donaldson. Multiple rape" ... Has a record in the Bronx. Can be extradited. Get him the hell outta Manhattan.
THORN: What about Zolitnikoff?
ROTH: Well, gimmee time, will you?
THORN: You've been telling me that for the last three days ...
ROTH: Well, I can't locate the files! I spent hours on it at the Exchange today ... Talked to every other Book who was there.
THORN: You know, there are twenty million guys outta work in Manhattan alone. Just waiting for my job ... Yours, too. I wanna close that case and sign it out.
ROTH: The hell kinda miracle do you want of me? I'm just an ordinary Police Book, not the Library of Congress!


[Thorn enters the room carrying a large yellow bag]
THORN: Hey, Sol!
[Roth peeks out from behind a bookcase, as Thorn puts the heavy bag down on the table]
ROTH: What're you doing home? What time is it?
[as he walks over, Thorn reaches into the bag and pulls out a clean sheet of paper, which he hands to Roth who stares at it in disbelief]
ROTH: Paper ... new paper.
[Thorn reaches into the bag again and takes out a handful of pencils]
THORN: Have some pencils!
[Roth continues to stare at the items, mesmerized, as Thorn takes two large books out of the bag]
THORN: Courtesy of your next assignment ... William R. Simonson. Chelsea Towers West.
[Roth reads the title on the cover of the first book]
ROTH: "Soylent Oceanographic Survey Report, 2015 to 2019" ...
[he lifts it up and looks at the other book, marked "Volume 2"]
ROTH: Two volumes!
[he starts flipping through the first volume excitedly]
ROTH: Where in hell did you get all these?
THORN: Off his shelves. They were the only reference books he had ... You like them?
ROTH: I love 'em! Do you know how many books were published in this country once upon a time? When there was paper and power and presses that worked and--
[Thorn takes a bottle of wine out of the bag and places it on top of the book, stopping Roth mid-sentence as he picks it up and studies it intently]
ROTH: What the hell ... Oh my god.
[Thorn laughs at his bewilderment]
ROTH: This Simonson was a great man!
[Thorn nods, as Roth takes the cork out and sniffs the bottle (smiling broadly)]
ROTH: L'chaim!
[he drinks straight from the bottle, as Thorn takes some Soylent Green out of the bag]
ROTH: Ahhh!


[Thorn and Roth are still arguing over William R. Simonson]
THORN: What have you dug up on Simonson?
ROTH: I've got a handful of reference work twenty years out of date. You throw out a name and you expect a miracle.
THORN: Simonson. Sol ...
[he motions towards the oceanographic survey reports]
THORN: Report, eh?
[Roth turns away in disgust]
ROTH: Schmuck ...
[he walks over to look at another book on the table]
ROTH: Biographical survey, 2006. Last one they published ... "Simonson, William R."
[he puts on his glasses, sits down, and begins reading from some notes he had written down previously]
ROTH: Born 1954. Evidently unmarried. Graduated Yale Law School in 1977. Principal partner, Simonson, Borden and uh ... Santini.
THORN: Governor Santini?
ROTH: Hold still, there's more.
[he closes the book, then pulls out another one]
ROTH: In 1997, he was the director of Holcox Manufacturing. Norfolk, Virginia. Specialist in manufacturing freeze-drying equipment for commercial food processing.
[he closes that book, then pulls out yet another one]
ROTH: And in uh ... 2018, Holcox was acquired by Soylent, and Simonson became a member of the board.
THORN: The board of Soylent?
ROTH: Your dead one was a very important man. Soylent controls the food supply for half the world.
[Thorn points to some other books on the table]
THORN: What about those?
ROTH: Oh, very technical and highly classified. Unnumbered copies. Officially, they don't exist.
THORN: Perfect.
ROTH: Now, what else do you want?
THORN: Everything.
ROTH: Well, uh ... Law, Soylent, oceanography, politics--
THORN: Across the board.
ROTH: Across ... oh, that's impossible.
THORN: Check the Exchange.
[Thorn turns away, so Roth gets up and follows him]
ROTH: Check the Exchange ... I need you to tell me that? Y'know, I was a teacher once. A full professor, a respected man.
THORN: Make a special effort, will ya, Sol? This case is for real. For a lotta marbles.
ROTH: For who?
THORN: Never mind. Now, don't forget to pick up the water ration later.
ROTH: Oh, I'll do that. I'll die if I don't get water!


[Roth walks up the stairs to the top floor of the former public library (passing a sign reading "Supreme Exchange, Authorized Books Only") and knocks on the door, as an elderly male librarian answers]
BOOK #2: Good evening, Mister Roth.
ROTH: Good evening.
[he steps inside]
ROTH: Thank you.
[cut to an interior shot of the room, as Roth makes his way past row after row of bookshelves overflowing with decaying books, then stops at a table surrounded by elderly (mostly female) librarians]
ROTH: Good evening.
[they all greet him, as he walks up to the elderly female librarian (short grey hair, blue blouse) sitting at the head of the table]
ROTH: Good evening, Your Honor.
EXCHANGE LEADER: I assume you have a priority police problem.
ROTH: Yes, Your Honor. It's about, uh, William Simonson. And, uh ...
[he takes the two oceanographic survey report volumes he had been carrying under his arms and hands them to her]
ROTH: These.
[all of the librarians gather around, as the Exchange Leader holds her trembling hands over the books (almost as if she is afraid to touch them)]


[after learning the truth about Soylent Green from the Exchange Leader, Roth can only shake his head]
ROTH: It's horrible ...
EXCHANGE LEADER: You must accept it.
[he looks down at a piece of paper in his hands]
ROTH: I see the words ... but I can't believe them.
EXCHANGE LEADER: Believe. The evidence is overwhelming.
[he slowly sits down]
EXCHANGE LEADER: Simonson was a member of the board.
ROTH: Yeah?
EXCHANGE LEADER: He learned these facts, and they shook his sanity. The corporation knew ... he was not reliable anymore.
[cut to reaction shots of the other librarians, then back to the Exchange Leader]
EXCHANGE LEADER: They feared he might talk ... and so he was eliminated.
ROTH: And why are they doing this?
EXCHANGE LEADER: Because it's easier. I think "expedient" is the word ... What we need is the proof of what they are doing, before we bring it to the Council of Nations.
ROTH: Good God ...
EXCHANGE LEADER: What God, Mister Roth? Where will we find Him?




Fleischer, Richard (Director). Soylent Green. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1973.

Starring: Celia Lovsky (Exchange Leader); Edward G. Robinson (Sol Roth, Police Book); Charlton Heston (Detective Robert Thorn)

Based on the Novel: Harrison, Harry. Make Room! Make Room! NY: Doubleday, 1966.

The year is 2022, and people are so dehumanized that some job titles completely objectify them. Female companions are "furniture." The librarian is now a "book" (no working computers in this film; civilization has degenerated) and the library is now the Supreme Exchange ("Authorized Books Only"). It is headed by a mature woman who is credited as the Exchange Leader and called "Your Honor." (I like that. Let's start calling our library directors "Your Honor.") Sol Roth works with (and lives with in intensely overpopulated New York City) a detective, doing research on criminal cases, hence his title of Police Book. Paper and pencils are in short supply, books are a rarity, and even the books found at the Exchange are 20 years out of date. Roth used to be a teacher and full professor, and when he gets discouraged he declares, "What do you want from me? I'm just an ordinary police book, not the Library of Congress. I don't know why I bother." To which Thorn replies, "Because it's your job." Perhaps some things never change. As for themes, this is another one to go with The Name of the Rose and others where the truth found in books threatens to destroy the characters. As to the book that inspired the film, Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room!: The storylines are completely different (no soylent green in the book, no suicide service, no eating people -- and no libraries or librarians of any ilk), but the setting (NYC, 1999) and the characters are pretty true. Read it if you enjoy doomsday fiction that pounds home the message of the dangers of unchecked population growth.

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