Can’t Stop Progress

The Queensboro Bridge was all backed up. Karsyn had never been in a traffic jam before—there hadn’t been a traffic jam in New York for decades. She peered out the window; it looked like there was something going on at the old additions that led down to Roosevelt Island, but it was hard to tell. The occupants of the other stalled autocars appeared equally flummoxed. “What’s going on?” she asked.

Her ‘plant tickled her neurons to give the impression of a spoken response. “There are protests over the scheduled demolition of the Mandragore.”

That was surprising. “The Mandragore’s getting torn down? It’s one of the oldest buildings in New York; why would they do that?” Though it was dwarfed by the skyline that grew up around it, the Mandragore had been one of the tallest buildings in the world back when it was erected. It was largely credited with popularizing the carbon sink towers that came to dominate the architecture of the second half of the 21st century. The tower’s west-facing side was famous for its 400 ginkgo tree clones that seemed to turn gold all at once in the fall. Karsyn had always thought it might make a nice spot for wedding photos. Someday. Not that she had put much thought into it. Not lately.

“At the lease’s expiration it was sold to a public development firm which then underwent a hostile takeover led by trillionaire entrepreneur and activist Nalani Soares. The site is expected to be used as an elevator substation.”

Interesting. The elevator terminals were all on the equator, naturally, but substations were starting to pop up in larger cities. It would sure save the hassle of a hypersonic flight down to Quito or Belém. “Can’t stop progress,” she said. “Turn this thing around; let’s find another route.”

“All local autocars are attempting the same maneuver, and none are able to move. This was traditionally called gridlock, though the term has largely fallen out of the lexicon.”

She couldn’t wrap her head around it. “What do you mean we can’t move? Run a diagnostic—you’re broken.”

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