The Commons Room of the Third Building of City One was a large affair, whose three bare metal walls enclosed more space than any other single living-quarters room in the Building; but the presence of the fourth wall made it seem tiny. That wall was nearly all window, a non-shatterable clear plastic immensely superior to that laboratory material, glass. It displayed a single unbroken sweep of forty feet, and it looked down on the forests of Fruyling's World from a height of sixteen stories. Men new to the Third Building usually sat with their backs to that enormous window, and even the eldest inhabitants usually placed their chairs somehow out of line with it, and looked instead at the walls, at their companions, or at their own hands.
"There is nothing to do," Dr. Haenlingen said. "We are outplayed鈥攂y the Confederation, by our own selves. We are outplayed: there are no moves left. There is nothing I can offer, nothing anyone can offer, quite as attractive as the double gift of punishment and denial." Shockingly, for the first time, the old woman sounded tired. Her voice was thin in the gray room. "Nothing we can do, Norma. You're dismissed: go back to work."