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Lady of Mazes

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  478 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Karl Schroeder is one of the new stars of hard SF. His novels, Ventus and Permanence, have established him as a new force in the field. Now he extends his reach into Larry Niven territory, returning to the same distant future in which Ventus was set, but employing a broader canvas, to tell the story of Teven Coronal, a ringworld with a huge multiplicity of human civilizati ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Tor Books (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,217)
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Bryan
Huge ideas drive this book. Action and character much less so, however, and appear sometimes only incidentally.

But the ideas are vast and mind-boggling, and come fast enough to keep any reader wondering if they really know what Karl Schroeder is trying to say, so despite flaws it's still recommended to read.

Why was I disappointed? I read the back cover and found out that this book takes place on a Ringworld. Sounds cool, I thought, and I went into the book bringing my version of reality with me.
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Peter
It's rare that a prequel is not only better than the original, but also completely stands alone to the point you don't need to have read the other book. Lady of Mazes is one such book. Although set in the universe of Ventus and hundreds of years before, although the antagonist (to use the word loosely) is the same, the main characters and setting are completely different.

Livia Kodalay's world, hidden from the rest of humanity to chart its own path, has been invaded and everything she knows is be
...more
Ursula Pflug
The following review ran in Strange Horizons:

Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder
Reviewed by Ursula Pflug
27 March 2006

Nanotech, for those few who might have missed it, is a rapidly developing technology which could make it possible to create absolutely anything by manipulating matter on the molecular level with the help of robotic assemblers, or nanobots, so small as to be invisible. Nanotech is often touted (as, of course, prior technologies have been as well) as potentially bringing a final end t
...more
Nell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jon Nelson
I don't really know what to think about this one. On the one hand, it's an example of that rarer breed of sci-fi novels that genuinely engages serious philosophical issues in a groundbreaking way.

The world of Lady of Mazes is one in which technology has advanced to the point that it enables a kind of fractured postmodern world in which people with different values and interests can inhabit the same spaces but experience radically different versions of reality, where even the (apparent) laws of p
...more
Erik Buchanan
I'm afraid this one and I did not get off to a good start. It was apparent very quickly that there were multiple realities in the book, but it was not apparent to me very quickly why I should care about the people in them.

The story did develop into something worth finishing and I recommend it if you want an excellent vision of a post-reality reality, where humans live is virtual worlds of their own creating, and a very unique take on how humanity can fight for its own destiny.

I just could have
...more
Robert
I really enjoyed this book . The story starts off on the vast ringworld of Teven Coronal . located in the Lethe Nebula, an enigmatic region of space beyond Jupiter. We meet the Hero of the story Livia Kodaly, a young musician and singer of Westerhaven. Westerhaven ia a manifold each manifold has a culture unto itself, with a unique history, mythology and technology. The manifolds are enabled by programmable matter and neural implants that give access to the virtual realities of "ins cape," where ...more
Michele
It took me a while to get into this book, mostly because I only had a few minutes each day that I could devote to reading, so it was difficult to understand what was going on just because I would forget what had gone before.

But the central concept of the book was very interesting, and unlike a lot of SF concept books, the writing was done well enough, avoiding most of the stilted prose and long explications on the technology that some 'ideas' SF falls into. The central idea is that humanity has
...more
Meek
Hay un detalle en Facebook que hace que la gente se sienta poderosa. Cuando no queremos saber nada mas de alguien, simplemente lo borramos. Ese poder hace creer a muchos que esa persona en realidad desaparece. El poder sobre la vida y la muerte...virtual, a la distancia de un click. Como si con eso anularamos una existencia solo por el hecho de que no "encaja" con nosotros. En cierto sentido lo apartamos de "nuestro" mundo, aunque el siga vivito y coleando por alli.

Ahora imaginense que eso se tr
...more
Raj
Livia Kodaly lives on a ringworld called Teven Coronal somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter and, like everybody else on Teven, neither knows nor cares about the wider solar system. This all changes when outsiders come into her world in preparation for an invasion that could change the face of the entire solar system.

This book is a prequel to Ventus, although there is almost no overlap between them, this showing the birth of the rogue AI 3340 that was the focus of Ventus. The book aims, like its
...more
Chris Scala
I'm debating on whether to give this book 2 or 3 stars. Normally I'd plow through something this short and accessibly written in a day or two, but I kept finding myself putting this book down to do something else.

I had several issues, but foremost was the fact that for a novel that was billed as "hard sf" on the cover it was remarkably short on science and incredibly long on buzzwords and tropes. You could replace the Artificial Intelligences with Gods or Demons, the 'manifolds' and 'narratives'
...more
Andrew
(Reread.)

This came out in 2005, and I described it then as "The-Future-as-Livejournal". (If I'd been hipper I would have said "Friendster"; younger, "Facebook".) Pick your social network, the principle still applies. The people of Teven Coronal can filter their realities: select friends and family and scenery and technology, and live the lives that they choose. Then evil invaders start knocking down the walls.

The Archipelago, the civilization beyond Teven's horizons, has picked up a bit more res
...more
Brittany
I could not put this book down. After reading the Virga books (or at least two of the three, and the library put me on a waiting list for the third) I needed more Karl Schroeder, so I picked this one up.

That was an excellent decision. Lady of Mazes is as captivating as the Virga books, but take place in an entirely different world. And because that's the way Schroeder does things, this world is as detailed and realistic as Virga. And the adventure is just as thrilling.

In an odd note that's boun
...more
Grady McCallie
Livia Kodaly lives in a ring world on the edge of the solar system in a far future in which 'reality' consists of a virtual reality that is superimposed on the physical world. The physics are a little sketchy, but that's beside the point; the conceit takes the notion that for each of us, our sense of reality is socially and culturally constructed, and makes it true on the level of the senses, not just on the level of mind. Livia's world comes under attack by a force that wants everyone to share ...more
Jeffrey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
korty
High concept far future SF. This is a standalone story set in the same universe as his first 2 novels Ventus (amazing) and Permanence (pretty good). The setting is an artificial ring world where societies are arranged according to AI mediated worldviews, where members see only what they agree to see and anything else can be filtered out of their vision. This story concerns what happens to these societies when a powerful outside entity invades and forces them to experience existence from a differ ...more
Cera
Three stars because it was so dense that I had to keep rereading sections and even at the end I didn't feel like I had a really good grasp on some parts of the world and the characters. It might go up to four stars upon reread, though, because it really was a fascinating book about how technology creates reality. Schroeder seems to be arguing that while there _is_ an objective reality, nobody can possibly experience it, because both technology and biology shape our perceptions. So what does that ...more
Althea Ann
Schroeder is a fairly recent discovery for me. (Why is it that I tend to love Canadian SF authors? Do I have some sort of deep-seated genetic affinity?) I haven't read everything by him yet, but I've liked everything I've read so far. 'Lady of Mazes; is admittedly not my favorite selection by him so far, but I still quite liked it. It reminded me of Elizabeth Bear's Jacob's Ladder books - but better.

It took a while for me to get into it. The multi-layered virtual reality these characters live in
...more
Dunjx
Bring your attention and penchant for philosophical implications of technology correlating with identity with you when reading this book(through narrative levels in any possible direction, I mean, structurally, temporally, formally, through language, through connections with physicality and culture, I don't even KNOW dear god there's so many things you can take out from this if you want to).
Toma Chicerman
Lady of Mazes is in some ways a trial run of the Virga books in my opinion. Thematically, it touches on the same ideas of a technological plateau, emergent systems, and technology's effect on the kind of life humans can live. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in Virga we never see what life outside of Candesce's tech cancelling field looks like and this book does exactly that.
My one disappointment is that the characters are somewhat weaker - Livia is no Venera Fanning, that's for sure.

Despit
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Caroline
Dec 23, 2013 Caroline marked it as shelved  ·  review of another edition
Midpoint review as I'm not sure I'll make it to the end. I like the ideas and the subject matter - first SF author I've read who is tackling current reality (or VR, or AR), and I appreciate the issues he is trying to raise (what is real anyway?). But I think he bit off more than he could chew: he fudges over the science/mechanics and many of the concepts, inserts clunky paragraphs in places to explain what's going on, doesn't really develop the plot or characters... Every time I think of stoppin ...more
Rich Mcallister
Forgot to review this when I finished it. Better than Permanence, hit the creepiness of delegating one's sensorium to a computational intermediary. Couldn't quite figure out the politics, though.
Roger
I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand it tackles subjects other authors spend multiple books covering. What does it mean to be human - in this case in highly virtualized world. Note you won't see either of those words in print.

I kept thinking "oh this reminds me of..." Amber series by Zelazny or Canopus in Argos. Or Ringworld

This book is described as hard SciFi. There is hardly any Sci at all in it. We are far enough into the future where the tech is ubiquitus and out of site. T
...more
Tim
This is set in a far future where advanced technology is pretty much indistinguishable from magic (to steal a phrase from Arthur C Clarke). I found it difficult to follow - too many unexplained concepts and plot shifts helped along by "weird science" for my taste. It's a lot closer to fantasy than hard SF, which I prefer.
Johann
One of my favorite books of all time. Very hard Sci-fi that carries a ring of truth and immediacy that is compelling. Do you wonder what the future of the world is once we have completely given or selves to virtuality? This book has that answer and is a glimpse into idealogies that are present in today's culture that seen from a different light takes on more ghastly appearances. Revealing, intriguing and innovative. A must read for the hard sci-fi fan and humanitarian for or against the age of v ...more
Gabriel Kent
Big ideas in a story that is merely decent...
Jeff Marshall
This book had really big ideas, at a time when most seem to be looking towards disintegration.
I found myself launched into this book from the start. It was a little disorienting at first but the story was written well enough that the need for long technical descriptions for the readers benefit could be dispensed with.
I found myself thinking about this book during and after reading it. I will probably put this on the shelf beside "Snow Crash".
Andrew
I thought this was one of the greatest stand alones I've ever read. The world was so dynamic and challenging I kept reading despite the slow character development. It was a book that brought up questions that other books do not regarding our social lives slowly being digitized. If you are looking for a good read you will find it here.
Stef
Take the philosophical musings of The Matrix ("but what is really real?"), multiply their complexity by 1000, throw in Facebook and Second Life, and set it in a universe full of constructed ring- or saucer-shaped human habitations á la Ringworld, and you might have something kind of like Lady of Mazes.
Kristi
I guess this book was just too high concept for me. I almost stopped reading it several times and had to push myself to finish it. Although I think I grasped the basics of the characters' various forms of "reality," there were details I didn't fully understand (eg, cables and elevators on Teven).
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Karl Schroeder is an award-winning Canadian science fiction author. His novels present far-future speculations on topics such as nanotechnology, terraforming, augmented reality and interstellar travel, and have a deeply philosophical streak. One of his concepts, known as thalience, has gained some currency in the artificial intelligence and computer networking communities.
More about Karl Schroeder...
Sun of Suns (Virga, #1) Queen of Candesce (Virga, #2) Ventus Pirate Sun (Virga, #3) Lockstep

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