The conference room was always crowded for these weekly meetings, but today it was so closely packed that the reporters had difficulty in writing. For the hundredth time, they grumbled to each other at Karellen’s conservatism and lack of consideration. Anywhere else in the world they could have brought TV cameras, tape recorders, and all the other tools of their highly mechanized trade. But here they had to rely on such archaic devices as paper and pencil – and even, incredible to relate, shorthand.

There had, of course, been several attempts to smuggle in recorders. They had been successfully smuggled out again, but a single glance at their smoking interiors had shown the futility of the experiment. Everyone understood, then, why they had always been warned, in their own interest, to leave watches and other metallic objects outside the conference room.

To make things more unfair, Karellen himself recorded the whole proceedings. Reporters guilty of carelessness, or downright misrepresentation -though this was very rare- had been summoned to short and unpleasant sessions with Karellen’s underlings and required to listen attentively to playbacks of what the Supervisor had really said. The lesson was not one that ever had to be repeated.