Commonwealth, II.XXIX: The Expanding Circle

Commonwealth, II.XXIX: The Expanding Circle February 19, 2021

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 6

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.

“My name is Rae Robinson. Some of you may have heard of me. I have a message for the Pacific Republic.”

The broadcast went out on every news channel. It was shown on screens across the city, on pocket-sized phone displays and enlarged to ten feet high on smart-glass walls. In private homes and apartments, in research labs and lounges, in classrooms and communal kitchens and public atriums, people clustered around to watch.

“I arrived here a month ago, under… unusual circumstances.”

The news channels provided context, playing an emergency broadcast from that night. The video showed Rae’s crippled plane plummeting from the sky, wrapped in a boiling cloud of black smoke. It descended in a long arc until it vanished below the horizon. A fireball rose above the trees, then faded into a distant unnatural glow.

“Until now, I’ve held my peace. I was new to this place, unfamiliar with its laws and customs. I wanted to learn everything I could before I spoke out.”

Within moments of the speech beginning, a spark kindled into fire on the Pacific Republic’s social networks. These weren’t like the social networks of the outside world, which existed for the purpose of luring people into revealing their preferences, habits and affiliations, so that this personal information could be sold to data-mining algorithms which targeted them for advertising. The Pacific Republic’s social sites were open-source and non-profit, respectful of privacy, existing only to facilitate contact between people and word-of-mouth sharing of information.

But this stream went viral as few news events in the Pacific Republic ever had. The count of people watching grew exponentially, until a majority of the city had tuned in. The public networks, built for redundancy, handled the traffic surge smoothly, without a glitch or a stutter in the video.

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