Cloggie: booklog 2002: Aristoi
Walter Jon Williams
448 pages
published in 1992

One of the best things about reading the rec.arts.sf.written newsgroup is that it has provided me with a seemingly endless stream of new writers for me to get acquainted with. Through rasfw I've discovered Glen Cook, Steve Brust, Ian McDonald, Ken MacLeod, China Mieville, P.C. Hodgell and now Walter Jon Williams.

Williams is one of those writers who never quite managed to break through, for reasons other then his writing, which I have now discovered is excellent. He first came to prominence with his cyberpunk novel, Hardwired, which apparantely was quite good. He didn't stay in cyberpunk long however, and has written in quite a number of science fiction subgenres.

Aristoi e.g. is far future space opera, which is always a plus with me. In Aristoi humanity has spread out over part of the Galaxy, with almost magical (nano)technology having made life into an utopia -though naotechnology has also its downsides, as runaway nanotech destroyed the original Earth. This produced the impetus for the current system by which humantiy is governed by the Aristoi, a meritocracy of the best and brightest, which anybody can join if they make it throught the exams. Apart from nanotech, the various worlds are knit together by the Hyperlogos, a fully realized virtual reality wehich serves the main communication medium, datastore, playground and meeting place for most if not all people and especially the Aristoi.

In Williams's version of the far future, everyone has their own daimones in their head, limited personalities "split off" from one's main personality, each with their own talents and specialities, each of which one can use at will to do things one couldn't do on one's own. Without these daimones, much of what an Aristoi does would be out of reach. What also helps is the reno, an implanted computer/datastore/Hyperlogos accesspoint, which means all information available in the Hyperlogos is but a thought away...

In this paradise Gabriel is one of the lucky Aristoi, hyper creative, extremly talented and at ease with the world -and then he recieves warning of a massive conspiracy going on under the very noses of the Aristoi, something which threatens the entire stability of human society. Be honest, did you expect anything else? Now Gabriel has to uses his many talents to thwart this menace., soemthing which won't be easy...

And which was very compelling to read. The beginning is a bit weak, starting off as a mildly entertaining infodump, but once the necessary information was presented, the story picked up speed. The pacing of the story as a whole was excellent, with enough room for the pecularities of Aristoi society to be enjoyed but enough happening to not get bored. As with any good space opera, the menace and revelations keep getting bigger and bigger the further the plot progressed, without seeing forced.

In short, Aristoi is a book I can recommend wholeheartely to any science fiction fan.

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Webpage created 14-12-2002, last updated 14-12-2002
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