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purest joy of computer design: the e ortless replica-
tion. Yuri gripped his little wand. Hook a twist on
that series---a ram s-horn fractal thing ...
What would the maestro do? Well, he d do some-
thing o the wall that nevertheless seemed eerily nec-
essary. Because despite his many personal quirks,
Roebel was the true golden wizard of the rubrics of
assemblage: "The parts grow out of the rules, while
the r ules grow out of the parts."
Insert a barrel vault. Who couldn t like barrel
vaults? Especially intersecting barrel vaults. Multi-
ple intersecting barrel vaults.
Yuri forgot himself. He forgot his purpose; he for-
got where he was. The chair vanished and the screen
became vapor. Yuri splashed in pure potentiality, free
of care, liberated, purely enjoying himself ...
Until it dawned on him that Roebel wasn t going
to much care for this plan. The plan had a whole lot
going on, but the plan wasn t very François Roebel.
Worse yet, the strict limits of ClearWorks were start-
ing to bug Yuri. ClearWorks was a 30-year-old program.
Furthermore, the whole shebang had been created by
just one guy, and though he had made a really cool
sandbox, it was pretty much nothing but sand.
Yuri had begun to sense the way the programmer
thought. No geek from 30 years ago could ever think
like a modern builder. Though he had a cunning
intuitive arsenal of cool ways to assemble his sand, he
lacked any cool ways to disassemble his sand.
It was as if he thought that real buildings went up
in some Platonic cyberspace where gravity, friction,
and entropy had never existed. Where the passage of
the years was just an abstraction. The author of Clear-
Works was pure geek, so he didn t realize that when
you meshed bits and atoms, you had to respect the
atoms. Bits were the ser vants of atoms. "Bits" were
just bits of atoms.
Bits came and went at the ick of a switch, but
atoms had deep and dark and per manent physical
laws. Atoms didn t go away when you shut down the
screen. When you lacked a responsible way to deal
with the atoms, you were a menace to yourself and
all around you.
Ar med with this ethical knowledge, Yuri set to
work to repair the oversight. Suddenly ClearWorks
was ghting him all the way. To get ClearWorks to
tear apart its own constructions, Yuri had to break
its elements right down to their little, least, voxel-
Now Yuri really had a ght on his hands. The
program had been mumbling along in its Wagnerian
grandeur, all pale timeless majesty and the sonorous
sawing of spatial strings---but Yuri s blood was up.
He heard a Ride of the Valkyries in his mind s ear, a
Götterdämmer ung theme song ... . He had to tear
that pure simplicity apart.
Break! Decay! Come apart, you stupid Total Work
of Art! Quit trying to hold yourself together in de -
ance of all sense and sanity! From pixels you are, and
to pixels you shall retur n ... .
Light clicked on overhead. Preston was standing
at the doorway, a beer in hand. Somehow, day had
"Are you still at it in here?"
Yuri blinked. "Is it late?"
"Yeah, you ve been in here for ve solid hours!"
Yuri abandoned the o ce chair. Suddenly his back
was killing him. "Where s François?"
"The clients woke him," said Preston. "We re feed-
ing them cocktails over in the solarium---cocktails, and
hogwash." Preston walked over and stared. "Wow."
"I tinkered around."
"That s looking pretty di erent. That s looking ...
"Design for disassembly," said Yuri. "I had to put
it all on a kind of loop."
Preston watched the animated screen, absently
sipping his beer.
"You know," he mused at last, "there is an aesthetic
quality to old computer graphics that is truly haunting.
It s very much like the scary, Gothic quality of silent
lm. Mankind will never be able to simulate build-
ings this badly again."
"I could work on the color tonalities."
"No, no, leave that, leave it!" Preston snatched
the bat from Yuri s hand. "Did you use the cortico-
"That neural brain-reading consciousness gizmo?"
"Oh, that," said Yuri. "It s funny, but I never even
plugged that in."
"That instant brain reader was supposed to be
extremely useful and convenient. "
Yuri shrugged. "You can t step in the same river
A stranger peered into Roebel s o ce, then stepped
inside. He was young, nattily dressed in a tailored suit,
and he carried a fancy valise.
"What have we here?" he said.
"You ve found the old man s design o ce," Preston
told him. "Yuri Lozano: Mark Quintaine. Mark is a
Quintaine had an elegant haircut, a very practiced
manner, and a slightly eccentric business suit. He
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