The hedonistic and carefree lifestyle in Dome City comes with a price. When a citizen’s lifeclock begins to blink, it means he or she is now too old, and due to attend a public ritual called Carrousel and die in a public spectacle. As this is a major event in the lives of citizens, most of the public attends these events.
Lastdays are outfitted in special clothes and masks. After filing wearing these costumes and encircling a huge lifeclock, lastdays expose their palms to show the blinking lifeclock to confirm their status.
Then they look up to a crystal at the ceiling that begins to spin. The lastdays become weightless, and they struggle to reach the top, for the opportunity to reach renewal.
When they fail—and they always fail—they explode in a fiery shower of sparks. The audience greets each explosion with a roar of excitement and applause.
A public ritual is at the edge of the definition of interface that I provided in Make It So:
All parts of a thing that enable its use.
But in this case, the culture of Dome City pays for its lavish lifestyle admidst fixed resources with these public executions, and something must turn what by rights should be met with horror and revulsion into something palatable, even enjoyable. It is in this sense that citizens use Carrousel.
Nearly everything we see in the ritual helps to hide its raw, morbid truth. The false promise of renewal hides the finality of the act. The masks won by participants hide the individual identity from the audience, easing the sense of personal loss. The identical costumes dehumanize participants, underscoring their role in the culture. The ritual actions give participants something to do during a time that is psychologically stressful. The public-ness of it reinforces its cultural importance and imprints onto the audience that one day, they do will participate.