by Walter Jon Williams
Cover Artist: Daniel Dos Santos
Review by Paul Haggerty
Night Shade Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597801256
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Aristide is an investigator of implied spaces, those areas that don't exist as a specific physical entity, but rather are only defined in relation to the physical objects that surround them. In the distant future, artificial intelligence, near limitless amounts of energy, and physics far beyond our understanding has opened up the universes in ways never dreamed possible. And that's universes, plural. Pocket universes, designed and created to order are inflated and stabilized and hooked to our reality, allowing tourists to have the ultimate vacation, separatists to literally build a golden society according to their beliefs, and people like Aristide to wander dozens of creations, seeking out what happens when someone puts a mountain next to a sea, and doesn't bother to describe what happens when they meet. Implied Spaces must exist, and something has to happen there. Sometimes it's banal, and sometimes it will threaten humanity's very existence.
Aristide use to be Pablo Monagas Pérez, a man of considerable notoriety and fame. But that was centuries ago, and Aristide has become tired of all the hubbub, and would like to live a life of peace and quiet. But the world is not so easily shut away no matter what you think you might deserve. Now traveling the pocket universes, Aristide is just interested in seeing how the world reacts when nobody's looking. And in the process, he stumbles on the next in a long line of universe-threatening wars. There's been the Ctrl-Alt-Delete War, the Seraphim Epidemic, the Zombie Plagues, and countless others. No matter how much power and resources the human race gets, somebody's never satisfied and has to find a way to cause pain and misery to as many people as possible.
Even wars involve implied spaces. Somebody out there has a dastardly plan, and is putting a series of actions into effect, hoping to take control before anybody can notice. But every action has unforeseeable consequences. They may be small and seem innocuous, but if Aristide can only assemble the clues, he might be able to stop the human race from being utterly enslaved … or he might just end up causing the very thing he's trying to prevent.
Implied Spaces takes place in a distant future, where humanity has been transformed (sometimes literally) by their technological progress. Whole pocket universes have been brought into being through sheer willpower (backed by nearly unlimited power and nearly omniscient AI computers). Some of these places are so different that the inhabitants are rebuilt on a cellular level with wings, gills, or whatever adaptation is necessary. Of course, given this technology, that means a person can change their body-type, sex, or species, nearly as often as they change their clothes. For safety, people's brains are backed-up on a regular basis, which renders death considerably less risky, and more of an inconvenience. So with this promise of near immortality, someone re-writing people's memories and personalities is a horror beyond imagining. If you can't trust the fail-safes, how can you ever know if you're really you?
Implied Spaces is part mystery, part science thriller, and a part exploration of what it truly means to be human when most of the givens we live with have been taken away. After leaving the pocket universe of Midgarth, Aristide is reunited with Daljit, a lady he was once romantically involved with, and truth be told, would like to be again. But dating is just as difficult in this century as it is in ours. More so if you have to put up with being killed and restored from backup, having your brains rewired by a shadowy conspiracy, and being thrust into the middle of a brewing war that will involve the entire human race. These difficulties make quiet suppers rather difficult to come by.
As always, somebody is going to have to rise up and fight the good fight. And, as always, that person is Aristide, a man whose overly developed sense of justice and dedication is going to get him in more trouble than he's ever faced in all his long life.