Far-future yarn about competitive multiple realities, godlike posthumans and rogue artificial intelligences, set in the same universe as Ventus (2000).
Teven Coronal is one of many ring-shaped habitats orbiting Earth; within it exist multiple realities, or “manifolds,” separated only by people’s ability to perceive them via their neural implants and the “tech locks” that keep the system functioning. Most people perceive one or perhaps two manifolds, but Livia Kodaly, from technically advanced Westerhaven, can cross into any of them. People from Westerhaven can visit neighboring Raven with its low-tech, Aztec-like “inscape” but few choose to do so, until Livia learns that outsiders have appeared there. She teams up with Raven chieftain Qiingi to study the newcomers, who bring high-tech devices and claim to be “ancestors.” Having already invaded other manifolds, the ancestors are now using the forces of Oceanus to destroy Westerhaven. Livia, Qiingi and Livia’s scientist friend Aaron flee and eventually make their way to Earth’s main civilization, the Archipelago—Teven, they find, is an isolated backwater—with its arbitrary realities, godlike posthumans, strange artificial-intelligence anecliptics, even weirder government and electoral system and individual lives based on interactive “narratives”—including the Good Book with its constantly shifting roles and relationships. Despite their best efforts, the three from Teven can find no clue who the ancestors are, or why they have chosen to invade Teven.
Bulging with complex ideas and extrapolations—often as difficult to follow as they are to describe; again, if you disregard the ideas and keep reading, the paucity of the underlying narrative becomes exposed. Often amazing, but it’s a tough slog nonetheless.