Design imitates art

William Gibson’s Idoru

Laney, glancing down as they passed one of the glowing loops, noticed, on the treads of the stairs, hardened trickles of something that resembled greenish amber. ‘There’s stuff on the stairs,’ he said.

‘Urine,’ Arleigh said.


‘Solidified, biologically neutral urine.’

Laney took the next few steps in silence. His calves were starting to ache. Urine?

‘The plumbing didn’t work, after the quake,’ she said. ‘They couldn’t use the toilets. People just started going, down the stairs. Pretty horrible, by all accounts, although some people actually get nostalgic about it.’

‘It’s solid?’

‘There’s a product here, a powder, looks like instant soup. Some kind of enzyme. They sell it mainly to mothers with young kids. The kid has to pee, you can’t get them to a toilet in time, they pee in a paper cup, an empty juice box. You drop in the contents of a handy, purse-sized sachet of this stuff, zap, it’s a solid. Neutral, odorless, completely hygienic. Pop it in the trash, it’s landfill.’

They passed another loop of light and Laney saw miniature stalactites suspended from the edges of a step. ‘They used that stuff…’

‘Lots of it. Constantly. Eventually they had to start sawing off the build-up…’

‘They still…?’

‘Of course not. But they kept the Grotto.’

Another flight. Another loop of ghostly undersea light.

‘What did they do about the solids?’ he asked.

‘I’d rather not know.’

And today, this – Dog Poo Spray – the spray hardens the dog stuff so its owner can dispose of it more easily. I think it’s a concept at this stage, the winner of a design contest.


About Steve