“THE ADVENTURES OF NONNIE JULES ON PLANET GENESIS”
#1. ENCOUNTER IN ARCANGEL PARK
In the fall of 2014, Author, John Fioravanti published his first novel, Passion & Struggle, as Book One of his science fiction series, The Genesis Saga. This post-apocalyptic story takes place some seven hundred years into the future on a habitable planet many light years from Earth. In fact, it took the human refugees almost a century to get there!
John’s book came to the attention of Nonnie Jules, founder and President of the Rave Reviews Book Club, of which, John is a member. It is January, 2015, and he has arrived at the book club’s office to discuss a proposal with Nonnie, who is very well known for her skills as an interviewer. The “Who’s on the Shelf with Nonnie Jules?” series of interviews has proven very helpful for authors lucky enough to have sat upon Nonnie’s shelf.
In the past few weeks, Fioravanti discovered that he has been blessed, or perhaps cursed, with a remarkable power. He cannot explain its origins, or how it actually works, but he decided to use it to create a most unusual series of interviews conducted by a world-class interviewer – hence, this visit to the office of Nonnie Jules.
Upon his arrival, Jules apologized and waved him to a chair on the opposite side of her beautiful oak desk, while she put the finishing touches on the Weekly Club Updates document. John didn’t mind waiting and he let his gaze wander to the bookcase behind her desk. So many books, so impressively arranged… he mused, but his thoughts were interrupted.
“John, I’m sorry to keep y’all waiting,” Nonnie’s tone was genuine and her smile disarming. She follows John’s gaze to her book collection and the smile reaches her eyes.
“Oh, good morning, Nonnie!” John is startled back to the business at hand. “That is an impressive arrangement of books!” Nonnie nods in appreciation and raises her eyebrows in askance.
John clears his throat and sits straighter in his chair, “I have a proposition for you.”
A smile begins to form on her lips, “Oh, really? Do tell!”
He returns her smile, his eyes locking on hers, “Would you be interested in conducting a series of interviews with the most prominent characters in my series, The Genesis Saga?”
Holding his gaze, Jules cocks an eyebrow, “Oh, you mean a series of virtual interviews that would be posted online?” Shrugging as Fioravanti’s smile grows, “I suppose that might be interesting.”
Her visitor doesn’t reply right away, but his smile increases gradually until he is almost grinning. Shaking his head slightly, from side to side, he springs his proposal. “No, not virtual interviews. What I have in mind is interviewing these personalities face to face – in the flesh.”
“What? Are you serious, John? Tell me that you’re pulling my leg.”
Fioravanti shakes his head once more, but says nothing for a few moments. “I’m being perfectly serious, Nonnie. I want to take you on a tour of planet Genesis in the year 2796 and meet the descendants of the people who escaped planet Earth in 2086,” he asserts earnestly.
Jules is very fond of the science fiction author sitting in the opposite chair, and she respects his writing prowess, but this proposal has her floored. He must be losing his grip… interviewing fictitious characters in person! He must be crazy, she thought. Fearing he’s losing his grip on reality, she decides to humor him.
“Well, John, I don’t see anyone here but you, and we’re both in my office in the year 2016, so I’ll start my interviews with… you! How about that!” He nods his head forward in agreement, so she begins. “You told me that the people in charge of this planet decided to make big changes in their society. Why? What’s wrong with it?”
The visiting author leans forward in his chair, “It’s kinda complicated, but in a nutshell, after more than 700 years of acrimony between the ruling Churcher class and the irreligious Naval class, big changes are needed to stave off mass violence and the ultimate destruction of human civilization on the planet.”
Nonnie cocks an eyebrow and replies pensively, “Sounds grim. What changes do they want to make, and who’s directing traffic there?”
Fioravanti smiles at her choice of words, “For now, High Chancellor Harvey Bingham is, ummm… directing traffic. Throughout the four-year war that just ended, he brought in measures to begin the desegregation of the urban centers…”
Jules gasps in dismay and glares at John, “They segregate the races there?”
“Why, why no!” John blinks twice at her sudden vehemence. “The discrimination there is based on religious differences. At the moment, the High Chancellor is supervising the planet’s first democratic election.”
“Democracy! Really!” Jules explodes incredulously. “Y’all are telling me that a religious dictator is setting up a democracy?” John nods in the affirmative. “John, this is unbelievable! I really want to talk to this man!”
Fioravanti rises from his chair, walks around the desk to stand beside her, touches her arm, closes his eyes in concentration, and… the two are instantly transported through space and time, finding themselves seated together upon a bench in a beautiful, lush park.
“Your wish is my command, Non!” Grinning, he gestures to the natural beauty that surrounds them. Panic-stricken, Jules stands up, quickly takes in her surroundings, spins around and glares accusingly at her companion.
“What… what have you done? John, this is not funny! Oh my God…”
Looking up at his distraught friend, he tries for a consoling tone, “Calm yourself, dear lady. We’re in ArcAngel Park in Genesis City, and the year is 2796. You said that you wished to speak with the High Chancellor.” Jules’ jaw drops, but words fail her. Her companion continues, “Look to your right; here he comes now.”
She spins around once more and spots a balding, middle-aged man, dressed in a crimson business suit, approaching along the intricately-designed stone walk. John rises from the bench and takes her arm to steady her. Bingham reaches them and extends his hand to Fioravanti, who responds with a warm handshake.
“Good day, High Chancellor!” He greets the cleric brightly. “Allow me to present my friend, Nonnie Jules.”
Bingham bows respectfully to Jules and addresses her in a tone that is accustomed to command. “Welcome, Ms. Jules, to my favorite refuge, ArcAngel Park! You know, it was built so the faithful can enjoy the natural gifts of the Gods in peaceful splendor.”
Put at ease by this charming cleric, Jules feels herself calming down and her mind begins to formulate questions as she looks from one man to the other. It is clear they are well-acquainted. What the… how can this be? She mulls the mystery over for a few moments before turning back to the High Chancellor.
“Excuse me, uh… Reverend, how do you know my friend, John?”
Bingham smiles at her use of the word, Reverend. “Madam, this man is known to us as ‘Dr. John’, a respected expert in human history from 21st Century Earth. Is that where you’re from as well?” He leans in close to her ear and whispers conspiringly, “Our dear Dr. John is either delusional, or he’s in possession of powerful technology. Either way, he’s a good soul, so we welcome him.”
Feeling suddenly tired from her ordeal, Jules looks at the bench. “I need to sit down!” She does just that and the two men sit on either side of her.
Jules turns to Fioravanti with a glare, “We’ll talk later!” Pasting a pleasant expression on her face, she turns back to Bingham. “Dr. John tells me you’re having an election here. Why? Y’all have absolute control of the government now. You can do anything you like! Now, why mess with that?”
Bingham blesses her with a warm smile, “Madam, I find you delightfully refreshing! Simply put, I believe it is the will of the Gods as revealed to me through the Earthers.”
She throws Fioravanti a glance and then locks eyes with the cleric. “Alright, I won’t question your beliefs, but tell me, why do you think democracy will work to save your society from mayhem?”
Bingham raises his eyebrows at her speech, “Mayhem…” He pauses and frowns thoughtfully. “That’s an apt word to use. To be honest, Ms. Jules, I tire of governing alone – and dealing with the opponents of reform has been frustrating. I need a strong leader, chosen by the people and blessed by the Gods, to help me finish the job.”
“I don’t suppose y’all have anyone in mind for that job…”
“But of course, Madam!” The cleric interrupts with great vigor. “ArcGeneral Liz Hastings is the only person I’d trust with this sacred task!”
“Really? A woman?” Jules blurts as she glances at Fioravanti with an astonished look before resuming eye contact with the High Chancellor. “I was told that your church doesn’t approve of women in leadership roles.”
Harvey Bingham nods his head in agreement. “True, true, dear lady, but Elizabeth Hastings is no ordinary woman… she is my candidate for President!”
Jules beams approvingly at the cleric. “Well, I just have to meet this woman!”
Hearing his cue, Dr. John stands, thanks the High Chancellor for taking the time to meet with them, invites Jules to say her goodbyes and walk with him along the stone path. Within moments, they round a bend and are out of sight of Harvey Bingham.
Bingham walks back the way he had come wearing a smile. They are such unique people, he mused, and I’m glad, crazy or not, that they are here.
Fioravanti stops walking. Jules eyes him suspiciously.
“Okay, John, what are you up to now? Is it time to go home? I don’t want to be gone too long!”
“Trust me, Nonnie.” He takes her hand in his own, closes his eyes in concentration until… they disappear once more!