Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 8
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.
They stepped off the boat – Rae had to adjust her stride to match the rolling rhythm of the floor – and passed through the floating gardens and into the cabin.
The interior of the houseboat was as eclectic as the outside. It was a cramped space filled with untidy stacks of dog-eared books and papers. One wall held a corkboard pinned with blueprints and engineering diagrams. The others displayed a wild variety of objects: polished brass compasses and chronometers, a wooden ship’s wheel, a collection of oars and paddles, a shiny sextant, a rusty iron piston from an old steam engine, a display case of archaic vacuum tubes, yellowed nautical charts in frames.
Jefferson Lassalle, the hydrological engineer, sat at a computer terminal in an ancient swivel chair. He spun around to face them.
He was a big man, not so much tall as wide, with an incongruously formal scarlet suit jacket, paisley tie, and a vest embroidered with gold thread whose buttons strained at the bulk of his stomach. He had a frizz of hair peppered with gray, and his teeth were a bright white smile in a round, cheerful, mahogany face. But his brown eyes didn’t match the impression of careless jollity. They were alert and sharp.
“Welcome to my humble home, Jane,” Lassalle said. “You don’t get out here often enough. Who’s your guest?”
“Jefferson, I’d like you to meet Rae Robinson.”
Rae braced for the shock of recognition, but the man’s expression remained blank.
“Eh? Hmm? Pleasure, I’m sure, but I don’t believe we’re acquainted,” he said as he shook her hand.