What then, did the planners of the city do? The phrase “dormitory suburb” took on a new meaning here. The outer wheel, largest in area, lightest in construction, perspex and unbreakable glass for the most part, became the kingdom of the sun – brighter than anything in the dreams of Campanella. Inside that came the shadowy wheel of sleep and night-time, built like an old European city of tenements and alleys – Prague, or Brussels, or Edinburgh. The innermost hub was reserved mainly for machinery and the vast engines which provided power, light and ventilation. There, too, the starships docked, though their passengers and crews did not stay there long – jetting swiftly outwards into the long boulevards of the outer city for the most part.
Travel is by endlessly moving pathways rather than by vehicles, because in this way the illusion of the city can be kept up. The moment one feels enclosed the city has become a vast trap – a rat’s maze of streets with but the one exit: outwards, from the hub of the wheel.
Bruno walks everywhere, along the miles and miles of outer streets, looking out at the sun and infinite space and trying to count the stars. For the most part, he speaks to no-one and nobody speaks to him. The outer city is a busy, bustling place, necessary after the melancholy of the dark city to which everyone must return at night. Sometimes he stops at a café or little bistro, for such visits leave a record, and he thinks it important that anyone looking for him should know where he has been. He is looking for something, he knows, something he will know when he sees it, but he does not know what.
The outer city holds no secrets, though; everything – workplaces, pleasure-gardens, spas – is open to the eye, so it is not long before he begins to angle his attention to the night. The dark tenements are, by their nature, hidden and impenetrable. One can enter only the building to which one is assigned, and all these assignments are recorded on the giant information web known as the link. With Ann’s help, he has devised some ways of getting into the other buildings, but finds them disconcertingly similar to his own. Each has a concierge, and flights of stairs as well as furniture lifts – each has a roof sealed off from easy access, which turns out to be (in fact) a ceiling, as he discovers after some rather breakneck manoeuvres one day. Gravity is lower in the middle of the wheel from that maintained on the rim, which makes climbing easy, but above there is nothing except a black roof of steel.
There is nothing for it, after that, but the exploration of the hub. There are some workers there (Julie was one of them), but it was never a popular assignment. Little attempt is made in this innermost part of the city to keep