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"Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today -- but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all."
- Isaac Asimov

Spine-Clamp  
  A device that constrains the movements of convicted criminals.  

Those not of the avout may be disciplined while still allowed to roam free.

"...if someone commits a bad enough crime, the Powers That Be clamp a thing on their spine that makes them sort of crippled for a while. Later it falls off and then they are normal again."

"Does it hurt?"

"No."

A new page. "When you see someone wearing one of those devices, can you tell what crime they committed?"

"Yes, it says right on it, in Kinagrams."

Technovelgy from Anathem, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Morrow in 2008
Additional resources -

Here's what happens when it goes into control mode:

His spine-clamp exploded in light, flashing alternately red and blue... Every muscle in his body had lost tone in the same instant, jammed by signals from the clamp."

Readers may also be reminded of Heinlein's security restraint field.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Anathem
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
  Tech news articles related to Anathem
  Tech news articles related to works by Neal Stephenson

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