There has been a breakdown in civil society and in law and order. The rich have retreated to walled estates in the hills.
In the city, middle class neighborhoods have constructed walls to try to hang on to a semblance of normality in their lives, but even the walls are not sufficient to stop thieves and arsonists breaking in and wreaking damage.
One of the astronauts on the latest Mars mission has been killed.
The cost of water has gone up and many water peddlers are being killed.
Her entire family had died a week before in a house fire that was started deliberately. Sims's fate, Lauren writes down her thoughts about God, something she has been doing since she was twelve.
She does not believe in a God who can be prayed to; her idea is that God is a power that can be shaped by humans if they have the will to do it. Analysis These chapters introduce the frightening and violent society that is California in 2024.
As they ride through the streets, they pass several corpses on the sidewalk, as well as some homeless people, and a naked young woman who is stumbling along aimlessly.
They pass unwalled residential areas, in which many of the houses have been trashed.
Water now costs more than gasoline, although few people buy gasoline any more.
Lauren hears the news because the Yannis family invite her to watch their Window Wall TV, which stretches the length of the living room wall.