Virtually everyone here seems to agree with me, so I don't think I need to repeat these sentiments, so I'll just say this. The first time I read it, I was almost home in L.A., flying back from Europe. I was young, and the mere ideas of flying and travelling was magical ones for me. We were just passing over Las Vegas in the darkness, which was much smaller in 1973 than it is today, and it was a solitary brilliant jewel on the breast of the desert. I had just read the part about Alvin's first trip to Lys, and how that isolated place reminded me of the gigantic underground switching station that he passed through, midway during the trip!