Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ventus - Karl Schroeder

I was lucky enough to meet Karl Schroeder at SFContario in Toronto not too long ago, and I was really impressed by what he had to say, and by his opinions on the usefulness of SF - allowing us glimpses of possible futures and the vocabulary to discuss them - that I decided to go find some of his books. Ventus was the easiest to get my hands on, as it is available for free online. I don't usually enjoy reading things on the computer screen, but Ventus was good enough that I just kept right on reading.

Initially it appears to be a fantasy novel, set on the planet Ventus which superficially resembles medieval earth, with a young protagonist Jordan Mason saving one of his workers from what appears to be some supernatural being, and having visions which appear to be from some sort of gods referred to as "The Winds". Fairly soon it transpires that all of these apparently fantastical elements are the result of advanced technology, but technology which is not under the control of the humans inhabiting Ventus, but some bizarre artificial intelligence with its own agenda. Or agendas as the case may be.

This is simultaneously a glorious romp through a fantasy world, a fascinating look at what the world might be like if every element of nature had its own voice and agenda, and a wonderful technological battle with advanced artificial intelligences with the future of the galaxy at stake. It isn't short, but it sure is fun to read.

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