- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (July 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765312190
- ISBN-13: 978-0765312198
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lady of Mazes Hardcover – June 23, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Set in the same future universe as Ventus (2000), Canadian author Schroeder's challenging hard SF novel explores the vast potential of artificial intelligence for transforming human culture. On the remote ring world of Teven Coronal, Livia Kodaly and her family inhabit the beautiful Westerhaven manifold, surrounded by a richness of high tech and virtual conveniences. Due to a childhood tragedy, Livia enjoys different consensual realities. The mysterious Book 3340 breaks down the barriers between manifolds, destroying her world, so that she must travel, with a few accomplices, out of Teven Coronal into the Archipelago, where she encounters several models for a perfect human society and examines her own. Her task is to choose among them, but ultimately to ensure that choices are possible by sacrificing herself to prevent the total subjugation of humanity. The interrelationship between technology and philosophy that informs her choice gives depth and breadth to a book that many will want to reread to get all the nuances.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In Ventus (2000) and Permanence (2002), Schroeder exhibited a flair for high-tech world building that yet had the feel of fantasy. In this book, he visits Teven Coronal, one ring in an immense chain of human- and posthuman-populated ringworlds circling a sun. Like most citizens of Teven Coronal, Livia Kodaly knows little of her true surroundings or the scope of human civilization beyond. Everyone on Teven Coronal lives within a series of virtual-reality landscapes known as manifolds, which overlay their true environment. While taking a break from her usual routine of social gatherings and political maneuvering, Livia, with a close friend, discovers a heretofore-impossible rift between manifolds. All too quickly the Teven Coronal virtual-reality paradise begins to crumble around them. Chaos ensues, and Livia and her closest friends must flee to other ringworlds and an uncertain future. Schroeder continues to improve his unique blend of hard sf and vivid, dreamlike prose and bids fair to become a major genre voice. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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In a style echoing Gene Wolfe and other "the pleasure is in figuring out what we're talking about" sci-fi writers, Schroeder jumps from one "in the middle of" story to another, using a litany of Schroeder/Lady of Mazes-specific proper nouns, to describe what would otherwise be a fairly straightforward cyber/sci-fi plot.
If there's a cool idea in here, it was lost to me in the folds of weird terminology, purposely confusing descriptions (not evocative but just annoying), illogical character behavior, and unbelievable cultural constructions.
Which is a shame, because half of Lady of Mazes seemed almost to reach that transcendental plane of sci-fi that goes beyond sci-fi and says something new about life/society/whatever (a la Gene Wolfe, Susan Palwick, Connie Wills, PK Dick), but the other half is lamely entrenched in high-school computers'n'rockets genre fiction.
We zoom in first on Westerhaven, where the inhabitants travel in AI-generated "societies," and sometimes appear virtually and sometimes in person, wearing whatever clothing they imagine themselves to be in. (When somebody gets bored, they depart for a chat elsewhere and send in one of their animas). Then we zoom in on one of the inhabitants, Livia Kodaly, who (as we are constantly and perhaps not entirely necessarily reminded) once was one of the victims involved in a software failure that cost lives when their public transport crashed--for real.
Of course, soon invaders, led by the mysterious entity known as 3340, assault the Coronal, and Livia's off in search of help, which she eventually finds, after which she--well, you know.
Mr. Schroeder, since he never quite makes clear what is real and what is illusion (which may well be his point) is pretty much free to write his own rules as he goes along--since nothing is quite as it seems, anything can happen, and pretty much does.
Which brings us back to differing systems requiring different techs. That allows the author (or his publisher) to present this work as "hard" science fiction when it's nothing of the sort. For if you accept the notion that this melange of fascinating ideas and colliding interests is "hard" science fiction, you'll also have to concede that the "Alice" and the "Oz" books are, too.