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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Hoverlimo  
  A hovercraft for hire, with servility built in.  

They are at the UniBio labs, learning about the future of sex (corporate version); following the presentation, they head back to the office to write up their stories - or they would, if they could find a hoverlimo. Unfortunately, the vehicle refuses to carry fewer than 7 passengers.

"When I write this story," I said, "and when I mention this foolish delay, portraying UniBio in an unfavorable light, your bosses will be extremely upset."

"This information disturbs and alarms me," said the hoverlimo. "I, being only a subprogram of an incompletely-activated routine of the UniBio building computer, wish only to please my human passengers…However, I can't move."

"Your mother was a garbage truck," I said, and kicked it in the rubber skirt.

"Undoubtedly, sir. Thank you, sir. Please come back soon, sir."

Technovelgy from Steel Beach, by John Varley.
Published by Ace Putnam in 1992
Additional resources -

One of the fun things about recent sf (i.e., post 50's) is that one no longer encounters perfect devices.

Compare to the flying platform from Locked Worlds (1929) by Edmond Hamilton, the gyrotomic from Ra For The Rajah (1938) by John Victor Peterson, the landspeeder from Star Wars (1976) by George Lucas and the hovercraft from Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) by William Gibson.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Steel Beach
  More Ideas and Technology by John Varley
  Tech news articles related to Steel Beach
  Tech news articles related to works by John Varley

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