Home' Technology Review : November December 2007 Contents 70 FICTION
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ity regulation: yes, all of it would digitize. Everything.
"Total building life-cycle management." People didn t
wire houses anymore---they "sheltered the network."
Nowadays, in the stolid and practical 2040s, Yuri
called himself the "sysadmin-CEO" of the "Lozano
Building Network." Yuri s enterprise was thriving; he
had more work than he and his people could handle.
He had placed himself in the thick of the big time.
Whenever he carved out one day o to spend with
his two sons, a sprawling network sensed his absence
and shivered all over.
The Lozano Building Network was ripping up
dead midwestern suburbs and heaving up sustain-
able digital buildings by the hundreds. That was the
work of the modern world.
Yuri knew that system: its colossal strength, and its
hosts of cracks, shortfalls, and weaknesses.
Yuri also knew that his company s contract build-
ings were crap.
Ninety percent of all buildings were always crap.
That was because 90 percent of all people had no taste.
Yuri understood that; he was almost at peace with that.
But it still burned him, it ached and it stung, that he
had never built a thing that deser ved to last.
The Lozano Building Network didn t create ne
buildings. It instantiated shelter goods. The mass of
workaday, crowd-pleasing real-estate fakery that arose
from his network wasn t "architecture." It was best
described as "hard copy."
To watch this building disassembled in this sweet
spring morning reminded him that his life hadn t
always been this way. In his own sweet spring, Yuri
had dreamed of creating classics. He d dreamed of
structures that would tower on the planet s surface
like brazen, gleaming symbols of excellence.
Yuri had never built any such place. He was com-
ing to realize, with a sinister middle-aged pang, that
he never would.
Watching the Costa Vista Motel disappear without
a trace---no, he couldn t call himself unhappy about
that. He felt eased and liberated. Denied the glory,
he could at least erase the shame.
Tommy, always a bundle of energy, had pedaled all
around the doomed motel. Somewhere, the kid had
ditched his safety helmet. "Look, Dad, why don t you
just blow it up? The way that big dumb robot picks at
it, this ll take us all day!"
"We ve got all day," Yuri told him serenely. "Tonight
we bring jackhammers."
Tommy brushed hair from his eager eyes. "Jack-
hammers, Dad? Can I touch the big jackhammers?"
"Maybe, son. If you don t tell your mom."
Nick yelped, jealous for attention. "Come on, Dad!
Push the bike, push it, Dad!" Nick was the frailer and
smarter of the two boys. His mother doted on him.
Yuri hitched his pants and shoved Nick s bike. The
kid almost had the hang of it. Yuri secretly let him go.
Nick rolled o beautifully, his padded feet eager on
his pedals. Then instability set in. Nick teetered into
a wobbly, desperate str uggle. Finally he crashed.
Tommy circled his fallen brother, derisively ring-
ing his bike bell. "Get up, wimp, loser!"
Yuri bent and disentangled Nick from the candy-
colored frame. "Fail early, fail often, Nick. You re
"I m not hurt," Nick agreed mournfully.
"A ride in a parking lot is just prototyping. Get back
in your saddle."
Nick balked, and looked searchingly into Yuri s
face. "Are you sad, Dad? You look sad."
"I m not sad, son."
"I ll never learn how to ride a bike. Will I?"
"Yes, son, you will! You will master this bicycle! A
bicycle is the world s most e cient means of transpor-
tation! And this bicycle will give you---Nicholas Lozano---
a vastly increased power to navigate urban space!"
Nick was properly impressed. He climbed back
on his bike.
"Nick, you are learning this much faster than your
brother did. Don t tell Tommy I said that."
"Yeah, sure, Dad! Okay! Push me now!"
Tommy zoomed back and skidded to a sudden halt,
his freckled face pale. He slung his arm out. "Dad,
Mom is coming! And she brought Aunt Carmen!"
Yuri glanced across the lot. Tommy s dire news
Tommy was panting. "Are we in big trouble,
"You d better let me handle this."
Yuri s wife and sister-in-law oated toward him on
twin Segways. Like their famous father, the Roebel
sisters were obsessed with Segways. After 45 years
of niche applications, the ingenious machines had
achieved a certain period charm, like monorails and
the Graf Zeppelin.
It was unlike Gretchen to show up when he was
taking some quality time with the boys. On the
contrary: when the kids were out from underfoot,
Gretchen indulged herself by taking scented bubble
baths and sur ng upscale websites.
And Car men was here with her, all the way from
San Francisco. Car men, arriving with no warning?
Car men? Nobody had ever been able to do a thing
THE CROWD BY WYNDHAM LEWIS/TATE, LONDON/ART RESOURCE, NY/©BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE WYNDHAM LEWIS MEMORIAL TRUST (A REGISTERED CHARITY)
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