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Commonwealth, II.XIX: The Ivory Tower

Commonwealth, II.XIX: The Ivory Tower December 11, 2020

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 3

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.

The next co-op Jane took Rae to see was very different from the first two.

“We embrace simplicity wherever possible,” she said, “but you mustn’t believe that farming or caring for children is all we do. The triumph of the Pacific Republic is that we’ve liberated people from zero-sum games of mutual destruction, freeing them to focus on real problems whose solutions benefit all humanity. This is one of the places where that liberated energy is put to use.”

They followed a paved footpath that opened onto a sprawling campus. It was delineated by a symbolic boundary: pillars of red brick and carved stone, spaced at regular intervals but with no fence between them. Atop the pillars, gracefully sculpted statues held lanterns, candles, torches – every kind of light-bearing instrument. There were real lights built into the stone, so the sentinels would be surrounded by glowing halos at night.

They passed under a gleaming metal arch. Rae looked up at the words inscribed there:

HIGH-TECH RESEARCH AND PROVING GROUNDS

A tree-lined walkway led to the heart of the research campus. Ahead rose a cluster of giant bubbles: geodesic domes, eight and ten stories tall, geometrically flawless despite their immense size.

But they were dwarfed by the three sail-white towers that soared above them, as tall as the residential skyscrapers. Glass elevator cars shuttled people and cargo up and down along the towers’ exterior faces. Silvery aircraft glided back and forth between the towers, as graceful as swallows.

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