The Smartest Mob: A Chapter from Existence

The Smartest Mob: A Chapter from Existence

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David Brin By DavidBrin Updated Jul 18, 2012

 The Smartest Mob

 A stand-alone excerpt from David Brin's novel EXISTENCE

by David Brin

Copyright 2012 Tor Books

Washington was like a geezer -- overweight and sagging -- but with attitude. Most of its gutty heft lay below the beltway, in waistlands that had been downwind on Awfulday.

Downwind, but not out.

When droves of upperclass child-bearers fled the invisible plumes enveloping Fairfax and Alexandria, those briefly-empty ghost towns quickly refilled with immigrants -- the latest mass of teemers, yearning to be free and willing to endure a little radiation, in exchange for a pleasant five-bedroom that could be subdivided into nearly as many apartments. Spacious living rooms began a second life as storefronts. Workshops took over four-car garages and lawns turned into produce gardens. Swimming pools made excellent refuse bins -- until government recovered enough to start cracking down.

Passing overhead, Tor could track signs of suburban renewal from her first class sea...