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Aristoi Paperback – September, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this complex and rewarding novel, Williams (Days of Atonement) has created a future which features many of the wonders SF has been promising us for years: virtual reality, genetic engineering, faster-than-light travel, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, telepathic links with computers, and more. Perhaps most interesting is that people have control of their daimones, different aspects of personality that are given specific names. The class system remains: the aristoi are the seemingly perfect humans who wield power and influence; in fact, some worship them as gods. An aristos named Gabriel discovers a conspiracy among three others of his class, who have created several worlds that are barbaric, with little technology and rampant disease and sickness. They have also killed other aristoi to cover their tracks and violated the sanctity of the Logarchy, the massive, open computer network that links all humans. In a nice touch, Williams renders several scenes in two columns of text on the page, the left describing the action, the right Gabriel's internal dialogue with his daimones. And in one delicious scene Gabriel has sex with two different women at the same time--one in virtual reality, one in real space.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the far future, an elite class of individuals--called aristoi--rules an interstellar empire through the benign, disciplined mastery of advanced technologies. Beneath the facade of universal prosperity, however, lurks a tide of dissension and madness that can only be fought from within. Williams ( Voice of the Whirlwind , LJ 5/15/87; Days of Atonement , LJ 3/15/91) tests the borders of imagination in a novel that combines brilliant hard science and speculative vision with a firm grip on the central humanity of his characters. A priority purchase for sf collections.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (September 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812514092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812514094
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I'm glad I kept going, though, because it was a very interesting read.
C. Owens
In any case, this one book stands out as one of my all time favorite science fiction novels of any author.
D. Mastin
It's a stunning vision of a future society with fascinating characters, technology, and plot.
Stephen Kenson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read Aristoi not long after it's original release in Hardcover, and have re-read it three times since then.
When I first read the book, I thought it was a work of art that created a world and culture as it someday might come to pass and still remained realistic enough to be believable. I was very impressed, and have since read most of the authors other works.
After re-reading the book a couple times, some of the magic I originally experienced faded but the underlining principles that made it a great book remained. It remains a classic on my bookshelf, and to this day I hope to see a sequal.
The book touches upon the evolution of mankind, and focus' on one individual, Gabriel, who is one of the cultural elite. With god-like authority, Gabriel can create worlds of great beauty while at the same time compose poetry and music and still hold a conversation on medical science.
Gabriel is restless though, and in his desire to solve a mystery he sets off on an adventure that ultimately challenges his beliefs, and the foundation of his culture. In the end he discovers that the aura of arrogance and power that came naturally to him before is now a difficult matter, and for the first time in his life knows fear and what it is to be "just human".
As a cultural analyst, I found the book rich in depth and, despite a couple raw points, very well done. The nuances that make a culture, and which I find lacking in many science-fiction books that attempt to create new or alien cultures, were very well done. I hope the author will someday write a sequal and continue the saga as Gabriel explores the universe in search of what he lost.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that can be curled up with and enjoyed for hours on end...like a good Heinlein novel, it keeps one engrossed in the details of the society at view. Set in the far, far, future, after nanotechnology and interstellar travel have become commonplace, it tells the story of the few who have the ability/responsibility to manage these awesome technologies. These "Aristoi" are absolute rulers of their domain, charged with the task of preserving and protecting lesser human beings.

Problem is, how do you cope with that kind of stress? Not everyone is content to simply stay at home and putter about in a garden...

Most interesting to me was the concept of "daimones" : semi-autonomous parts of the self which are conciously developed to "handle" events while the primary personality is otherwise engaged. The protagonist is posessed of an entire stable of such beings, each of which has distinct, but very limited, personalities. Mataglap is vengeful, Augenblick is diplomatic, etc. Any of them is capable of assuming control of bodily or netbourne functions when asked to do so...at other times, they simply remain as permanent voices in ones' head.

Interaction with daimones forms a large part of the book and is handled well. Particularly effective was the technique of splitting the narrative into columns, with one conversation on the right, another on the left. The confusion created by trying to follow both threads at once brings home the multiple 'presences' of the character in a way impossible with a normal linear stream. I wish I could do that on IRC or in chat...

At one point, we see a novice undergoing intense pain to summon and control his own fledgling daimones.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Raymund Eich on April 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel works on so many levels--rousing, space operatic adventure; high technology sense-of-wonder; utopia and its underside; lyrical writing. But its most distinctive elements are the daimones, the subpersonalities of the human galaxy's philosopher-kings. Not "multiple personalities" in the crude, reductionist way a contemporary reader might think, the daimones, as depicted, are the best embodiment of full, healthy integration of conscious and subconscious minds I've ever seen in, not just sf, but any work of fiction. If you're an experienced sf reader who's hesitated about picking up this book because the daimones sound "crazy," suspend your disbelief just a little bit beyond the usual, and take the plunge.

Note on the ebook text: in the print versions, Williams used two columns to simultaneously present external action and the internal dialogue of daimones. In the ebook version, he interleaves the external and the internal in a way that captures the feel of the original within the limits of present-day ebook formatting.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1996
Format: Paperback
What happens after The Diamond Age? Will nanotechnology
run amok and melt down everything it touches? (The
concept of "rogue nano" is one good reason to read this book!)
Williams explores a fascinating future in which access to the
immense power of nanotechnology is permitted only to
the aristoi. But how do you become one of "the best"?
Why not employ nanomachinery to enhance your brain capacities,
then develop and express multiple personalities, each
gifted with specific abilities and skills? But will your emerging personalities
work together? What surprises lurk in the depths of the mind?
And who will watch the watchers? This is one of my all-time
favorites -- fascinating, subtle, thought-provoking and a
good read!
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