From Publishers Weekly
Although Aurora Award-winner Schroeder is probably best known for his fantasy fiction, this novel, his first large-scale SF work, should greatly expand his reputation. A thousand years ago, highly advanced artificial intelligences (AIs) called Winds terraformed the planet Ventus into a comfortable world for human settlementDbut something went wrong, and the Winds never relinquished control. Now they rule as gods, using their "mecha" creatures to squelch anythingDor anyoneDwho creates imbalance in their perfectly groomed environment. Enter young Jordan Mason, whose visions show him dreamlike images of far-distant events that are somehow linked to the Winds. But Jordan only begins to realize the truth after he meets two off-worlders, the assassin Calandria and her partner, Axel. Jordan's visions link him to Armiger, a spy created by a megalomaniac AI called 3340. Though Calandria "destroyed" 3340, she fears Armiger carries the seeds to resurrect the entity. Jordan's link offers the only hope of finding Armiger, but there are other forces at work as well. Civil war fomented by the Winds threatens to overthrow mad Queen Galas, the most egalitarian ruler in Ventus's history. And in a distant system called the Archipelago, Calandria's boss, a rival AI, is sending warships to decimate Ventus and insure 3340's demiseDpermanently. Canadian Schroeder handles his large cast of characters with impressive dexterity. Fans of the high-tech foundation and grand world-building of Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod will feel right at home here, as will anyone else who appreciates a challenging, original story. (Dec. 18)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Jordan Mason of the planet Ventus comes from a long line of stoneworkers, and he has a clear understanding of his place in his world. He is subservient to the aristocracy, who in turn bow to the Winds, who control the weather, plant and animal life, and human undertakings. Lately, Jordan has had troubling visions, in which his immediate surroundings are blotted out by a different sky and a different forest, and he sees through another man's eyes. One night, searching in the forest for his sister, Jordan meets captivating Calandria May, who says she can explain his visions if he will help track Armiger, through whose eyes he has gazed. Armiger is a rogue artificial intelligence (AI), sent to Ventus to co-opt the Winds, which are also AIs, into enslaving humans and creating a powerful, ruthless world-mind. Through Armiger's eyes, Jordan sees how his interactions with an independent, tender peasant woman and a fierce, lonely queen are changing the AI's cold objectives. As Jordan and Calandria close in on Armiger, they see that the Winds are divided into pro-human and antihuman camps. Wondering whether he is on the right side, Jordan uses his visionary power to speak directly to the Winds. A final battle for Ventus brings human generals, intelligent moons, and a roving off-planet archaeologist onstage. Although strictly hard sf, full of technology, Schroeder's novel is so rich in character and emotion that it feels like classic fantasy. Roberta JohnsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved