The Victorian Revival movement was arguably the best thing to happen to mankind in the latter half of the twenty-first century. The effects of globalization had caused culture worldwide to stagnate and innovation to come to a grinding halt. With nothing held sacred and a collective sense of complacency, humanity's hope for a bright, shining future had all but died. And so it was that a large portion of the artistic and philosophical communities kick-started a new renaissance based on the Victorian era of Great Britain. People all around the world welcomed this return to refined sensibilities and romanticism with open arms, as global society had grown tired of the bleak secularism that had dominated popular culture since the second World War.
The year is now 2091 AD, and across the globe, people are riding in self-driving carriages and going on holiday in the maria of the Moon. The Neochristian church has risen to the status of world religion, with the vast majority of the 11 billion people on earth declared neochristians. The United Nations is the one and only state, a parliamentary theocracy with a supplemental AI branch. Technology has been able to advance at an accelerated rate due to global unification and the adoption of scientific pursuits as a holy calling. Prosperity and peace are present everywhere, and the future has never looked so glorious.
For moon-born, Marius Norralen, outspoken atheist and nihilist however, the future looks far from bright. To him, this new renaissance is naught but a new Dark Age, and the rest of the world has been blinded by lies. He cannot understand how all the progress made within the last century before the Victorian Revival toward rational thought and logical reasoning could have been perverted so. He has committed his life to a cause even he thinks is impossible to succeed in his own lifetime; the enlightenment of mankind. He thinks himself a noble hero, battling against ignorance and ideological oppression. He fails to see that his opponents are fighting for the same thing, and see themselves in an equally noble light.
“Good morning, Mr. Norralen! How did last night’s crusade for enlightenment go?” Mortimer asked.
“Do you mock me Mortimer?” Marius asked, annoyed.
“Why no, sir. I was simply curious as to how your rally went, truthfully” Mortimer assured the peeved atheist.
“What? Did you not hear about it from your other customers?”
“Only a little here and there. Seems you actually managed to make some consider just what it is they believe” the bartender said with an encouraging smile.
“Ha! Yes, a few people asking questions that their fellows will be more than happy to answer with more ignorance and lies. Such a small seed of independent thought cannot hope to grow in the soil of a society saturated with toxic ideas” Marius spat.
“Begging your pardon, Mr. Norralen, but how can such questions be the product of independent thought if they are sown by another?”
After giving the bartender a good hard look, Marius exclaimed “Ha, how indeed! You’re a smarter man than you look, Mortimer.”
“Thank you, sir. Though, me thinks you have insulted by appearance” Mortimer said in a mock tone of offence.
At that, Marius had to laugh. The bartender was a consistently sharply dressed man, with slicked back graying hair and a penchant for only the sleekest looking wearable technology. Today, he was sporting a pristine white, button down shirt with a beautifully embroidered red vest and black slacks. Three glossy white rings graced his right hand’s thumb, index, and middle finger, with a patterned white glove covering the remaining two fingers and palm. With this set up, he was able to simply gesture to one of the drink machines which would then perfectly make whatever drink he inputted into it. He was of course able to make any drink by hand, but few people were so old-fashioned as to ask the service of him. Despite his apparent obsolescence, Mortimer quite enjoyed his job, spending most of his time engaging with his customers.
“Mortimer, if anyone were to insult your appearance, I would personally teach them a lesson in manners” the atheist said.
“You are most generous, Mr. Norralen. Though if ever a situation of that nature were to arise, I would rather you teach them a lesson in fashion” Mortimer chuckled.
“I doubt anyone would take fashion advice from an obvious deviant like me very seriously” Marius laughed, looking down at his early twenty-first century style clothes.
“Too true, I’m afraid. Hmmm, I’d better hire a designer to defend my honor against uncultured ruffians who would insult my fashion sense.”
“Uncultured ruffians aren’t so bad. I myself am uncultured and rather rough around the edges. It’s the cultured ruffians you’ve got to watch out for.”
“Ha! You are quite right, Mr. Norralen. Quite right indeed.”
Though all was said in jest, Marius couldn’t help but feel slightly awkward about his status as an outspoken atheist in the situation. Mortimer was as good-natured a fellow as you’d be like to find, but he was in no way like-minded with Marius. Still, they managed to get along famously, and Marius found himself quite grateful for the bartender’s respectful and kindly manner just then. Tomorrow, he would be holding another “rally” where he would once again try and talk some sense into the brainwashed masses of the world capital, New York. An impossible and draining task it might be, but Marius refused to quit. As long as he had some scotch and at least one friend in the world, he could convince himself that it was worth doing. At least, that’s what he would always tell himself.
“Ha…yeah. When am I ever wrong?”