Traveling to earth, where he is befriended by the computer-augmented Ratio, Telman Lord Cima, scion of a ruling family from a distant world, comforts Ratio, whose father has been killed, and accompanies him on his quest for the truth.
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Winner of more than one Ditmar Award (Australia's highest honor for science fiction), Damien Broderick has been doing SF, criticism, and academic research for many years. The White Abacus doubtless introduces him to more people outside of the Commonwealth.
To use the phrase "Hamlet in space" to describe The White Abacus is not a criticism; the book is a Shakespearean tour de force set far in the future. "Hu" (humans) are scientifically sophisticated, but emotionally immature. "Ai" (artificial intelligence) are rational and peace-loving, though more politically developed than most hu know. In most of the universe, hu and ai live together in harmony, but not in the Asteroid Belt of humanity's home solar system. An isolationist movement there left the pioneers extremely religious and dead set against using the "hex gates" that enable instantaneous travel between planets. Life on Psyche in the Belt remains a serious business, for humans only--no ai allowed.
Psyche's young prince Telmah (try reading it backwards) is sent to Earth to study, and there befriends an ai being named Ratio who has been painfully separated from the Gestell, a unified state of the ai. Telmah and his friends spend their days studying, romping, and playing at sophisticated games. Back at home, his uncle Feng allegedly murders Telmah's father, marries the widowed mother, and usurps the Directorship. Determined to avenge his father, Telmah returns home to confront Uncle Feng. The faithful Ratio accompanies him, but unbeknownst to Telmah, Ratio has another motive besides friendship--a secret assignment from the Gestell.
Sound familiar? A fast-moving, updated version of the Hamlet tale, The White Abacus offers comedy, space opera, literary puzzles, and not a few surprises. --Bonnie BoumanFrom the Back Cover:
Several thousand years from now, the hu--courageous, scientifically sophisticated, yet emotionally primitive human beings--and the ai-- contemplative, playful, and peace-loving augmented intelligences--coexist peacefully on Earth and throughout much of the galaxy. But on the far-flung asteroid Psyche, the hu reign supreme and the robot minds of the ai are forbidden ... and feared.
A shared love of gaming has joined the ai being, Ratio, and Telmah Lord Cima, the young hu scion of Psyche's ruling dynasty, in inseparable friendship on the planet Earth. But the sudden, suspicious death of Lord Orwen, Telmah's father and Psyche's leader, draws them both to Telmah's beleaguered homeworld--where his ruthless uncle Feng has married Telmah's widowed mother, and, with the support of the nobility and military, has assumed the Directorship.
Now the Gamemaster has determined that naked ambition must be thwarted for the sake of all sentient beings. And a revenge-obsessed Telmah must face the might of Feng's illegal government armed with nothing more than his own torment, intuition, and brute force--and with but a single ally, his devoted ai companion, at his side.
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Book Description Avon Books (P), 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0380785595