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Lady of Mazes

(Ventus #0)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  852 ratings  ·  82 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. Lady of Mazes is the story of Teven Coronal, a ringworld with a huge multiplicity of human ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 2005)
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Ninja I think you'd be okay. I was about to start it when I realised the blurb referenced Ventus, so read that immediately prior. But it's minimal.

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  852 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
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.
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Bryan Alexander
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, space-opera
What a richly inventive novel this is. Lady of Mazes is most of all about ideas, the concepts coming quickly and piled on top of each other.

To describe the plot is really to do the novel an injustice. Well, if I must, I'd say it's a kind of travel narrative in a far future solar system, where virtual reality plays a central role. The protagonist, Livia, sees terrible things happen to her home and world, so sets off to address them.

Where does she go? Livia travels between ringworlds. By flung
Peter Tillman
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
2018 Reread notes:
Very good book, but hard to follow at times, and the characters aren't very convincing (except when they are). But the sfnal ideas are very, very cool!

Ideas 4.5 stars, characters & flow 3 stars. Overall 3.7 stars.

2006 Booklog notes:
B+/A-. Good far-future speculation. Gets a bit incoherent at the end, and starts out slow. I didn't really get interested until the group from Teven Coronal got out to the Archipelago.
"Lady of Mazes is a
Chris Scala
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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'
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Morgan McGuire
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic merging of hard sci-fi and and space opera.

The scale is similar to The Eclipse series, Rendezvous with Rama, or an Iain Banks novel. The ideas are terrific. This is essentially a philosophical thought experiment on the implications of important ideas from computer science today in augmented reality and artificial intelligence. It covers in an accessible way topics like redirected walking, nanotechnology, emergent systems, embodied intelligence, and the socio-political analogues of
Ursula Pflug
May 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
In a lit class, sometimes the question comes up about who to "blame" when a text is not understandable. Sometimes, this is due to poor writing. However, other times, it is user error, and it is this case that brings me to this book.
I want to say I "got" the big ideas in the book: there's worlds stacked on top of worlds, virtual instances of a person that interact with the world, demigod AI things and an AI-run government, space travel... on their own, these concepts make sense. However, when
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Read about 20%... loved the world building - the idea of individual intertwined realities - but the style , the pace and the Roman "flavor" were a major turn off.
Traci Loudin
This is a really cool book that explores what societies built around virtual reality might evolve into. When you finally get used to the one society and how it works (and all the lingo, like animas and manifolds and tech locks, etc.), then you're on another planet which has an even more advanced version of this virtual reality. It's awesome. Interestingly, transhumanism was deemed off limits, but Jupiter's culture is starting to explore the idea.

So I loved the ideas, but I just couldn't stay
Juan Arellano
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
(Más abajo en castellano)

For those who are not science fiction fans, this book is not just science fiction, it is hard sf. This means, in theory, that the ideas, concepts and scenarios described have a greater preponderance in the novel than the characters and their "psychological development".

That said, I add that the novel, honoring the subgenre, is "hard" to enter to, so I imagine that several readers will abandon it after the first pages. What happens is that the author decided to start with
Stopped reading around 1/4th in.

I do like the concept -- a post-scarcity future where people spend all their time creating meaning for their lives by choosing exactly what world they want to live in, and who they want to spend it with. Technology allows each person to weave exactly the reality they want, and to block out the parts they don't like. This leads to people coming together to create entirely new cultures, with intricate histories and power relations -- all 100% voluntarily. The
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book begins with a good character and huge ideas. Livia Kodaly is an extremely social young woman with a deep connection to home -- except home is a virtual reality and her social group is an always-on group of AI that behave exactly like (and can be replaced by) her closest friends and family. The narrative takes you on an insanely epic, thought-provoking ride that feels like traveling through concepts and universes that are astounding in their imagination and exciting in their thorough ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Liz by: Michael DeRosa
Shelves: recommended
The world was interesting, but the characters felt shallow or one dimensional. The plot didn't really feel like the characters had agency but instead like they were just reacting.

The full implications of the world outside the home planet didn't seem to be realized--lots of interesting ideas, but sometimes it seemed like the reality wasn't thought through. For instance, if everyone is always in a virtual reality, why are they wearing clothing in the non-virtual? How is their basic hygiene
Jeremy Hornik
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Really good, really fascinating... yet I can't love a book that took 100+ pages to become comprehensible. Hard sci fi. Slow to come into focus, slow to gather around what it's about. Some fine images and moments, some dreary and turgid ones. I suspect if it was ten percent more comprehensible, it would be half as interesting.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
lovely but jard to pin down story. well written though sometimes slightly too in love with its own philosophy lectures. still some interesting points made about the future of humanity and its relation to technology, and the nature of reality. I enjoyed the extreme forward leap in time and the way different societies and politics were framed.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
A book to make you think. I enjoyed the absence of infodumps, and the gradual introductions of technologies and viewpoints. The plot zips along (sometimes a little too smoothly perhaps), but the core ideas underlying the novel are great, addressing interesting philosophical questions without getting lost in them. Hidden gem.
Gregory P
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fun space-faring universe with some unique reality altering.
Brian Gaston
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Maybe the best in the series by Schroeder. His ideas are the best part of the book.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, singularity
Drenched in sci-fi and philosophy. At the start it seemed good but not great and then it kinda dribbled a little about a quarter of the way in. Somehow picked up, got really good then awesome.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
The world was unique, and had the courage to follow the setup through to its logical conclusion in how values and meaning arise from restriction on action, but the story was not good.
Morgan Goose
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good book. great ideas, execution got a little muddy halfway through
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera
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
Jon Nelson
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
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
May 31, 2012 rated it liked it

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
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought of Diaspora when I began reading this book, and whether I liked it or not the thought kept popping up, drawing parallels despite the obvious differences. I found it rather ironic that the humans inhabiting a world claiming that all science was "done", finished, were closer to our present selves than any of the Konishi citizens, still working away in the truth mines. It seems hard to believe that the anecliptics' interventions would have made all such changes impossible (even ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 28, 2008 rated it liked it
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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.

Other books in the series

Ventus (3 books)
  • Ventus
  • Ventus, Tome 1
  • Ventus, tome 2
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