Friday, April 27, 2007

Architecture of the Imagination

"The port had started small and grown over the centuries, ...  At port center was the station itself, a hollow asteroid some sixteen kilometers in diameter, with its parks and shops and dormitories and warehouses and labs.  Six predecessor stations, each larger than the last and each now outdated, the oldest built three centuries back and no larger than a starship, clung to the Spiderhome like fat metal buds on a stone potato.
Spiderhome was what they called it now, because it sat at the center of the web, an intricate silver-metal net cast across the dark of space.  Radiating from the station in all directions were sixteen great spurs.  The newest was four kilometers long, and building; seven of the originals (the eighth had been destroyed in an explosion) stabbed twelve kays out into space.  Inside the great tubes were the port's industrial zones--warehouses, factories, shipyards, customs gates, and embarkation centers, plus docking facitilies and repair bays for every class of starship known in the sector.  Long pneumatic tube trains ran through the center of the spurs, moving cargo and passengers from gate to gate and to the crowded, noisy, bustling nexus in Spiderhome, and the elevator downstairs.
Other, lesser tubes branched from the spurs, and still lesser passages from them, crossing and recrossing the void, binding everything together in a pattern that grew in intricacy each year, as more and more additions were made.
And between the web strands were the flies--shuttles going up and down from the surface ... with consignments too big or volatile for the elevator, mining ships coming in with ore and ice from the Frags, food freighters from the terraformed farming asteroids inward they called the Larder, and all manner of interstellar traffic: ..."
From Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin  

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