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"To get anywhere, or even live a long time, a man has to guess, and guess right, over and over again, without enough data for a logical answer."
- Robert Heinlein

Universal Card  
  A device that mimics every credit card and identification card you possess.  

Note: Be sure to see the Science Fiction in the News item about the Chameleon Card.

In the world of Hyperion, hundreds of worlds are open via farcaster portals - a means of instantaneous transportation between worlds. There is no need to make sense of the financial systems in place in these worlds; they all accept the Universal Card.

If our society ever opted for Orwell's Big Brother approach, the instrument of choice for oppression would have to be the credit wake. In a totally noncash economy with only a vestigial barter black market, a person's activities could be tracked in real time by monitoring the credit wake of his or her universal card. There were strict laws protecting card privacy but laws had a bad habit of being ignored or abrogated when societal push came to totalitarian shove.
From Hyperion, by Dan Simmons.
Published by Doubleday in 1989
Additional resources -

In this society, there is almost no off-the-books cash or barter; every transaction is recorded. Surely, this is VISA taken to the logical extreme - and thanks to farcaster technology, it really is everywhere you want to be.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Hyperion
  More Ideas and Technology by Dan Simmons
  Tech news articles related to Hyperion
  Tech news articles related to works by Dan Simmons

Universal Card-related news articles:
  - Chameleon Card: Simmons' Universal Credit Card?

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Science Fiction in the News

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