Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams

(Note: This review originally appeared in Ray Gun Revival 46, Sept 2008)


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Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams
Night Shade Books, 2008, 265pp

One of the great things about speculative fiction is that it allows you to ask the big questions, the sorts of things that you are usually too embarrassed to mention in mixed company anymore. Instead, you relegate things like the question of what makes us human and the nature of courage to discussions with those of like mind, and otherwise limit yourself to shallow topics like the latest ball team or episode of Lost by the water cooler.

But here at RGR, since we are entirely in love with the genre, we love unabashedly big-concept books. Who can forget those great moments in the past, when you first read of Spice or learned of the hidden Foundations? Walter Jon Williams is one author unafraid to continue the noble (and I would argue, essential) tradition of speculative fiction.

With Implied Spaces Williams has once again delivered an enjoyable book that is not afraid to create the sensawunda that does things on the cosmic scale. And not only that, the universe(s) he creates are an RPGer’s dreams come true.
Aristide is a computer scientist who helped create the eleven super computers that control the world of the future where mankind’s every need is met. Humans now spend their time in various pocket universes, accessed by wormholes, where they can live out their fantasies in bodies engineered to match those fantasies. Death is all but abolished. If your body dies, you are built a new one and your uploaded consciousness is downloaded into it.

Having lived a full life for a millennium and a half, Aristide has set his focus on the “implied spaces,” those things that exist as a result of intended spaces. For example, when four arches are put together, the resulting squinch is an implied space that exists but was not the intention of the design. Aristide is looking for these implied spaces in the pocket universes, where, for example, mountains exist on a water world so that the water world can have littoral zones. The mountains, therefore, are an implied space.

While searching out these implied spaces, Aristide uncovers a conspiracy that is set to destroy the eleven AIs and all the pocket universes, turning these post-singularity humans into slaves to the Venger, the mysterious mastermind behind the takeover.
What the novel gets down to, eventually, is the question of what it means to be human in a post-human world, especially when this world has determined that mankind just may be an “implied space” within the universe. Is mankind futile or does it have meaning, even if it is an unintended consequence?

Williams addresses these questions while at the same time writing a riotous romp. In just 256 pages, he manages to create depth of character and world building that would take most authors today many more pages to accomplish. This results in a tight, focused novel that does not drag in the slightest at any point. In addition, Williams’ characters are well-drawn. Even those who appear and disappear from the narrative quickly are well fleshed out and compelling. In short, Implied Spaces is an excellent work by a master of the craft.

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