‘Lady Of Mazes’ by Karl Schroeder


Just finished Karl Schroeder’s, “Lady Of Mazes”; and it’s entirely possible I’m just not smart enough to have gotten all the good out of it. I love me some big ideas; and this guy kept them coming, no doubt. Ginormous ringworld populated by trillions of people, living in enclosed societies frozen out of certain types of technology (depending on which society you’re living in) by thingies called, ‘tech locks’ because that’s the level and set of values they wanted to have…like Amish in space, but way cooler. Augmented reality on steroids they call, ‘the inscape’, which provides consensual reality – decide what you want to see and filter out the rest. Folks call up simulations of what they should do to see how decisions will turn out. They call up simulations of themselves for others to deal with when they feel like checking out for a while. It goes on and on, man. Highly original and very interesting. Of course, because it’s science fiction, that all had to break up into bits; and I won’t go into all that. It felt a bit like something by Barrington Bayley, if you’ve ever tried something from him. (If you haven’t, go do that now – I’ll wait). But you don’t read Bayley for the snappy dialogue and believable character motivations, you know? Same deal here, at least that was my reality.

My issue is that it read at times, in fact most of the book, like random bits of dialogue and events that were honestly hard for me to follow. I blame my short attention span and impatience with wooden characters. Chapter divisions are there; but I couldn’t make sense of the logic behind them. People are doing all sorts of things; but most of that is just convenient for the conflict that needed to be set up and its resolution rather than a sensible flow of what people would do.

Anyway, the ideas stuck with me, if not the plot or the people. I’ll remember it, so maybe based on that alone, you should give it a shot yourself. Maybe just go in like a buddy of mine used to describe as his way of enjoying certain alt music like REM…think of it as an impressionist painting and don’t expect everything to float your boat and make perfect sense. I’m going to try another one by this same author, first in a series and called, ‘Sun Of Suns’. Will let you know how that one turns out.