This week we provide an excerpt from Chapter One of Chandelier, Benny and the Diva.
A century has passed since the fabled Phantom ruled the Garnier Opera House. Multiple generations of patrons have felt his wrath, including Madame D'Arenberg, referred to as Diva, a famous French opera singer who is now a centenarian post-human. (humans with technological implants)
She prepares for her final appearance at the Garnier for the 2121AD opening night of Verdi's La Traviata. Her greatest love has long passed, and she is now cared for by Peri (a human) and Dr Flynn (a humanoid). On Peri's recommendation, Diva attends a performance by Benny, a musician who scrapes out a living as a pianist in a nightclub. Diva is affected by his unique musicianship and hires him to write a song for her final concert.
Excerpt from Chapter One
Hotel patrons streamed in from all corners of Paris SC (Super City) into Benny's world. The high-level retreat filled with an atmospheric fog, not from long-banned substances, but personal coms, permanently activated by the long-hauliers, post-humans who congregated after a fifty straight hours shift. Some welcomed Benny's music but most preferred the personalized entertainment from their com. A few humans, 'old gen's', were scattered around the room, primarily aids accompanying wealthy post-humans, the new elite.
Benny practised scales masquerading as background music before turning his talents to playing neoclassical noir in an attempt to break through their digital wall of indifference. Halfway into the musical arrangement, he scaled up the digital accompaniment, unable to play the piano's challenging set. The loss of control baffled him. What was usually easy could become an alarming challenge as his mind struggled to connect the paper's voluminous notes with his hand coordination. He played the more straightforward accompaniment with his good right hand. No one seemed to notice his struggle. He glanced across to the best tables, lining the panoramic view of the whirlpool of districts spiking web-like across the super city, housing the vast majority of the French population. They weren't even interested in Paris's most lovely view. Why should they care about his music?
The views that evening offered a special treat. Stars momentarily appeared in the sky, a rare event as the permanently thick cumulus layers choked the Earth's post-industrial stratosphere. A clearer view lay below. Climate roads cut green lines between a vast sea of regenerated buildings. Their cloud scraper fronted a 'farmlane', the largest of the old highways approved for farming under artificial 'sunstrips' where autonomous croppers tended to the super-city's food chain.
Benny was the only unaccompanied human in the house. He relished the challenge of drawing post-humans attention from their virtual lives, but most nights, he failed, playing his heart out to phantoms, no longer fascinated by the natural world. But, surprisingly, one table was taking an interest.
CHANDELIER is the genre-bending sci-fi/fantasy-romance novel follow up of Michael Leon's 2019 fantasy-romance book, PHANTOMS. A century has passed since the fabled Phantom ruled the Garnier Opera House. Technology has advanced, and AI has evolved beyond human knowledge. They reside in a virtual Earth, free from the ravages of an environmentally damaged Earth where humans and post-humans live under AI's qualified governance. CHANDELIER follows one AI sentient's journey, Benny, whose loyalty to a famous opera singer, Madame D'Arenberg, sets him on a dangerous course, entangling him in The Phantom of the Opera's deadly web.
If you like the sound of CHANDELIER, read the prequel, PHANTOMS, available on Amazon.