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The Shape of Things to Come is a novel written by H.G. Wells. This novel, as confirmed by the 4/25/08 audio podcast, is the basis for the title of episode 4x09, which is also titled "The Shape of Things to Come".
The book is written as a sort of historical account, even though it was set to occur in 2106. It tells of how a world state could be considered an answer to Earth's problems. After a large plague wipes out much of humanity, a dictatorship takes over, taking away all religion and uniting the world. If someone opposes the dictatorship, they are given a choice to commit suicide in an environment of their choice. However, the dictatorship is later overthrown and the world state dissolves.