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by Scott Westerfield
p.19-20 A month ago, Aya had kicked a story about a new graffiti clique, uglies who left artwork for future generations. They painted the insides of unfinished tunnels and conduits, letting their work be sealed up like time capsules. No one would see the paintings until long after the city collapsed, when its ruins were rediscovered by some future civilization. It was all very mind-rain, a rumination about how the eternal Prettytime had been ore fragile than it seemed.
The story hadn’t bumped Aya’s face rank--stories about uglies never did--but she and Moggle had spent a week playing hide-and-seek through the construction site. She wasn’t afraid of the underground.
p.32-33 For the first year after being cured, Hiro had jumped from clique to clique: Extreme Surge, the city hoverball team, even a tour in the wild as a Ranger trainee. He hadn’t stuck with anything, shifting aimlessly, unable to make sense of freedom.
Of course, in that logic-missing first year a lot of people were confused. Some actually decided to reverse the mind-rain--not just old crumblies, but new pretties too. Even Hiro had talked about turning back into a bubblehead.
Then two years ago came the news that the economy was in trouble. Back in the Prettytime, bubbleheads could ask for anything they wanted: Their toys and party clothes popped out of the hole in the wall, no questions asked. But creative, free-minded human beings were more ravenous than bubbleheads, it turned out. Too many resources were going to random hobbies, new buildings, and major projects like the mag-lev trains. And nobody was volunteering for the hard jobs anymore.
Some people wanted to go Rusty “money,” complete with rents and taxes and starving if you couldn’t pay for food. But the City Council didn’t go that crazy; they voted for the reputation economy instead. From now on, merits and face ranks would decide who got the best mansions, the most carbon emissions, the biggest wall allowances. Merits were for doctors, teachers, wardens, all the way down to littlies doing schoolwork and their chores--everyone who kept the city going, as determined by the Good Citizen Committee. Face ranks were for the rest of culture, from artists to sports stars to scientists. You could use all the resources you wanted, as long as you captured the city’s collective imagination.
And to keep the face ranks fair, every citizen over the age of littlie was given their own feed--a million scattered threads of stories to help make sense of the mind-rain.
p.52-53 “The next train passes in three minutes,” Jai said. “So what’s the most important thing to remember once we’re surfing?”
A cold trickle squirmed down Aya’s spine. “The decapitation signals.”
“Which work how?”
“When anyone in front of me flashes a yellow light, that means duck. Red means a tunnel’s coming, so lie flat against the train.”
“Just don’t get too excited.” Jai giggled. “Or you’ll lose your head.”
Aya wondered if the Sly Girls had ever considered lying flat for the whole ride, which would make decapitation much less of an issue. Or realized that not surfing mag-levs at all would keep head-losing safely in the realm of the unimaginable, where it belonged.
p.77 “What are we going to do?”
“Well, us tech-heads have a saying: If you can’t use the kickest new technology, just use your eyes.”
p.201 “Don’t poke a dead fire.”
p.280 “Tally Youngblood,” she breathed. “You’re a truth-slanting, trust-wrecking waste of gravity!”
Tally chuckled. “I’m glad that was in Japanese, Aya-la. Because it didn’t sound very respectful.”
p.356 Aya turned to face him. “Sorry, Hiro. But Moggle can’t tow three people.”
“You forget: I actually know how to fly a hoverball rig. I don’t need to be towed.” Hiro drifted into the air, spinning around once to demonstrate. ‘And I’m not going to let my little sister upstage me twice in one week.”
She smiled. “Glad to have you along, Hiro.”
p.371 Aya looked at the jumble of pieces. All were gently curved, but she couldn’t figure out how they went together.
“They look like boat hulls,” she said.
Hiro snorted. “Ah, the popular solid steel canoe.”
p.404 “Okay, Cutters,” Tally said, exhaustion in her voice. “Maybe we should give them a hand with these fires.”
“Why not?” Shay said. “Fighting fires is almost as much fun as starting them!”
p.413 “I’m still sorry about sneaking all those shots of you.”
“And I’m sorry for shooting you out of a mass driver.” Lai paused. Wait a minute--no, I’m not. That was fun.”