Book Review 2008 #36: Implied Spaces

It’s not often that you read a novel which creates a subgenre, sui generis. Implied Spaces, by Walter Jon Williams, manages that feat with the inauguration of the “Sword and Singularity” subgenre of SF.
For those who don’t know what a Singularity is, in brief, its the idea that when trans-human intelligences (be it computer, cyborg or what have you) come into existence, life and history as we know it will be utterly transformed, and life after it will be as alien to us as our modern technological existence is alien to our ancestors in the Paleolithic era.
In Implied Spaces, Walter Jon Williams creates a “sword and singularity” novel. What this means is, pace S.M. Stirling, is that fantasy ideas, tropes and even settings are convincingly melded with the high technology of a post-Singularity environment. We start off the novel in a fantasy world environment that, if it were just a random tidbit found on the internet, would at first look like a well written but ordinary fantasy novel. Aristide has a talking cat, sure, but in a world of trolls and monsters, that’s not unusual.
When his sword comes out, and starts acting like Morgaine Chaya’s Changeling, complete with a wormhole, the reader starts getting an inkling that there is much more to the universe than meets the eye. We soon get ever grander vistas and situations as, with Aristide as our guide, we meet A.I.’s, post-human characters, wormhole technology, mass drivers using wormholes as weapons, and technology capable of affecting the most fundamental elements of reality.
As Keanu Reeves famously once said: “Whoa!”
The book is philosophical, comic, action packed, thoughtful and stunningly well written. I’ve been a fan of Williams work for a long while, and he hits all cylinders here. This novel is precisely for people who can read good fat fantasy, and yet strongly appreciate the High-tech SF of, say, Charlie Stross.
Highly Recommended.