ARISTOI by Walter Jon Williams


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 Often pigeonholed with the cyberpunks for such novels as Angel Station (1989), Williams showed his versatility in Facets (1990). Here, he combines such hot topics as virtual reality, nanotechnology, and multiple personality in a utopian novel that owes as much to Arthur C. Clarke as to the more familiar punk icons. Gabriel is one of the Aristoi, near-immortals with godlike powers in an expansive far-future meritocracy. Advanced virtual reality technology allows the Aristoi to visit distant places (several at once, if they wish) in projected bodies tailored to the owner's whim. In addition, they have access to a team of ``daimons,'' deliberately created multiple personalities who advise them or steer the body (normal or projected) through tasks that require special abilities. The plot is more or less familiar, turning on the discovery of a rebel Aristoi who has set up an appallingly primitive society to foster a stronger breed of humanity. But Williams keeps it interesting, inventing comic details of everyday life among the Aristoi, or using double columns to follow scenes in which Gabriel calls on his daimons for help in everything from surgery and lovemaking to combat. Williams's high-tech utopia effectively draws on the hot ideas in current science and technology to ask provocative questions about the goals of human society. Space opera with brains and panache--tough, fast-moving, and very well written.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-85172-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992


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