Thin fingers spread and clutched at the pale forms in the Composer. Tibor flipped through reference images with his right index figure. Bauhaus, Belle Epoque, Google. No, backwards. Not styles, but associations. He grabbed the imaginary stack of photographs and turned them at right angles. With this cue, the stack rearranged itself and turned insubstantial. The spectral photos spread like a hand of cards. Each image sprouted an association tree. Some trees were quite large, and several intertwined. Tibor was looking for a particular mix of modernity and self-conscious fear. In the Machine Age, he found it.
Tibor Gorenflot has a wicked pair of hands. Two pairs, actually. Three pairs, if you counted the heavy lift attachments on his harness. Right now though, the regular ones were earning their keep. The architecture of the past thousand years was distilled into a web of associations. They sprang up organically, from simple origins. An arch, or perhaps a dome, or perhaps a gesture known only to Gorenflot and his Composer. A flick, a hum, a tilt of the head and the custom interface rifled through architectural history and the tenets of applied psychology with the ease of stage tricks. There was history, then there were the social and mythic accretions that surround it. Kunsthalle of the Vienna Secession? Use the dome but change the decorations. Twenty years ago it was the setting for a film romance, you know. The angels supporting the buttresses should slightly resemble the female lead. Make them sleeker. Pin their robes and bob their hair. The new bronze fades to old silver in the preview window then to the clean shine of aluminum. Dry her tears at long last. Good. The copy outshines the original in this light. Maybe it was always thus, but Gorenflot has a rare gift for memory and artifice. His arms, which is to say, the prosthetics he’s currently using, are light duty precision models. They’re Martian work, from a mid tier range put out by a Sino-Nigerian firm that specializes in remote manipulators. Gorenflot once explained to Gessler that commercial prostheses lacked the build quality and precision his work required. His real arms are long gone, and the subject of endless amusing lies on the part of Gorenflot. Half the support staff believes he lost them in the Minute War, and the other half believes they were stolen by an unscrupulous biosculptor in La Paz.
For all the unnatural length and bearing of Gorenflot’s limbs, his movements were never that of a spider, an insect, or anything that crawled. He moved with a glacial precision and inexorability. His domain is the rooftops and half dreamed halls of the Inner Workshop. Tumbletown was a glimpse backstage, but this was something else again. The space was vast and cluttered, with dreams and the buildings of the future nestling together in the darkness. For Titan City, this was the holiest of holies. Nestled at the edge of the Outer Ring, the workshop occupied a building the size of a city block, but much taller. From the outside it looked like a city block, as the vast bulk and central importance of the place was disguised by breaking the facade up among several distinct false fronts. The signage was both somewhat generalized and a repository for forgotten in-jokes among the designers.
I am admitting momentary defeat with regards to the Iron Road. Titan City is proving to be too much of a love letter to that which I hold dearest to set it down. The Iron Road came out someplace very different from where I am now, being the perspective of an Angry Young Man watching the war in the Balkans from a bolt hole in northwest Missouri.
I’m sure the story will come around again, but it’ll probably change some more in the process. Shying away from what you really want to do is a terrible strategy.