We Know Who We Are

by Robert Silverberg

Short story

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This is a strange far-future tale set in Shining City, a vast technological wonder of a city inhabited by a small number of people whose every need is satisfied instantly by ever-present machines. The people are happy: they know who they are, and they know what they want to be. The city is surrounded by a great purple desert, and no one from the city ventures far into it. Then one day a woman walks out of the desert. She has come, she says, to see the Knowing Machine, which happens to the the one machine the people of the city never use. After all, they know who they are already. Or do they?

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