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Literature / Implied Spaces

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A man and his talking cat, a sword by his side, is traveling through a desert of Midgarth, studying implied spaces, until he came across caravans of traders and guards, huddle together. They tell a tale of a band of vicious bandits led by priests of dark gods, who sacrifice anyone captured alive. With the capture and interrogation of a few of those bandits, the man decides to organize the caravan guards and attack the bandits. However, the discovery of what the priests are, and the weapons they wield, will change the world, forever.

Implied Spaces is a 2008 Science Fiction novel by Walter Jon Williams, where 1500 years in the future, in a universe without Faster-Than-Light Travel, humanity decides to expand inwards, creating multiple Pocket Dimension, and being taken care of by The Eleven, 11 superadvanced AI platforms orbiting the Sun.

Due to the twists and turns of the story, expect spoilers.

This work provides examples of:

  • And Then What?: The Existential Crisis is basically this question on the civilization scale. Ontology and Teleology become a big study subjects to combat that, and for several characters, finding a goal in life and meaning of existence is a major goal for them.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Given its extremely abstract interests, including things like cosmology and teleology, no one suspected that Courtland is the AI that turned traitor. However, given later revelations, it makes sense why it's the one turning against the others.
  • Big Bad: Vindex is Epsilon Eridani's copy of Aristide/Pablo, driven mad after finding out about the Inept and his Daljit being killed by the Big Belch, the stellar expansion of Epsilon Eridani. Blaming the Inept for his Daljit's death and pretty much every bad things humanity has ever experienced, he intends to unite all human factions to confront the Inept, whether the other humans will like it or not.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: Apparently one of Aristide's copy at Tau Ceti managed to invent a new gender for humans.
  • Brainwashed: Those that are hit by Seraphim virus got this, and is one way of turning people into illegal pod people. The people "sacrificed" by the Priests of Venger and abducted by Vindex's agents are put through this to make more agents. Aristide and Daljit are briefly turned into pod people when they were reconstructed by the pool of life that was corrupted by Vindex.
  • Brain Uploading: This can be done. The main uses seen in the story is for uploading digitized colonists into interstellar spacecrafts bound for other stars.
  • Cool Sword: Tecmessa, Aristide's Absurdly Sharp Blade that's lined with wormholes.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Invoked: It's very lucky that Vindex is pretty lonely that he, after scanning her to make sure she isn't something worse which Bitsy easily works around, is willing to take amphibian Bitsy as a pet, whose cute panic act for her master is only partly feigned note . This allows Bitsy to gather information as best as she could due to Vindex's lax security arrangement, then later saved Aristide when he's captured.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Earth is described as being under a process of "millennium-long reset" after long periods of ecological abuse. Only a few hundred thousand people live there right now.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Aristide has this when the various polity representatives debate whether to unshackle the AIs or surrender to Vindex, and Shenai lamented about having no invisible shields or teleportation: since the universe is a construct, any arbitrary limits built into it can be used to manipulate reality itself, which means that invisible shields or teleportation could be possible. The AIs get to work quickly after that.
  • Famed In-Story: The name Aristide is not be well-known to the general populace with very small exception, the name Pablo Monagas Perez, on the other hand...given that he, the main character, is one of the people who helped create the Eleven, this makes sense.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Averted. There's no FTL, with wormholes only being able to connect the main universe to pocket universes. Any travel done, including to other stars, must be done slow than the speed of light. Played straighter when it was discovered that Vindex managed to create wormholes with two ends joining places in the main universe, however they still had to be carried to the destination at slower than light speed. The end of the novel plays this completely straight when both the Loyal Ten and Vindex/Courtland found a way to project wormhole exit to any place in the universe. It can even be used to Time Travel.
  • Great Offscreen War: Control-Alt-Delete War, where a revolutionary group managed to create Seraphim virus and unleashed on all human polities. This war is described by Aristide as the true world war, where everyone are combatant.
  • Healing Spring: The pool of life serves as this, with full body rejuvenation, memory backup, and even full body reconstruction. And memory modification, willing or unwilling.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Justified: The AI Courtland's personality is sufficiently amorphous (instead of, for example, Endora and Gemma who has more feminine personality, or Aloysius who has more masculine personality) that people and other AIs use "it" to describe Courtland.
  • Killed Off for Real: Midgarth has the closest thing to this in the solar system: when you die, there's delay of 5 years until you can enter the place again. You can be resurrected outside of the place, but inside you're legally treated as dead, with anything you owned being given to whoever is in your will, and any legal and contractual obligations cancelled. When you do finally come back, you're a nobody. This also happened to those consumed by the Big Belch at Epsilon Eridani, since it destroyed the infrasturctures needed to resurrect them.
  • Kill It with Fire: Vindex and Courtland used wormholes to funnel a pocket universe's sun's material and turned it into a giant flamethrower, melting the Loyal Ten's armies during the fight on the surface of Courtland.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: In a world where there are many crazy weapons like antiproton particle beams, virus that overwrite people's loyalties, zombie virus, nano-assemblers that can turn field of grass into field of nitrocellulose, missile carrying wormholes connected to pocket universes filled with antimatter, and artificial stars weaponized as ginormous flamethrowers, one of the most terrifying weapon in the solar system is merely a hunk of metal...being hurled at near the speed of light.
  • Medieval Stasis: Midgarth suffers from this due to the fact that the laws of physics there disallow temperature to rise up above certain point, which means development of things like explosives and such is impossible. This is, of course, intended for a world that existed as Fantasy MMO. Advanced technologies can function in the world, however, as long as it doesn't violate the physics laws, but the people inside would find it impossible to develop intermediate technologies that would eventually lead to those advanced tech.
  • Mind Virus: Seraphim virus is this, a highly contagious virus that forcibly rewrite the infected's loyalty to blindly follow the Seraphim. Numerous copycat exists, including the zombie virus. Vindex unleashes one on pocket universes controlled by Courtland to make them blindly obey him.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: The Republic of Fred, a pocket universe inhabited only by a man named Fred and his clones due to his hatred of all other humans.
  • Nanomachines: Used in many things, the most notable being the pools of life. They're also used as weapons. The characters noted, however, that the disassemblers aren't that big of the problem, it's the assemblers that are bigger issue, since they can pull stuff like turning a field of grass into field of nitrocellulose.
  • Neglectful Precursors: According to Vindex, the Inept, who doesn't even intended to create humans, making us the implied species.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The first chapters set on Midgarth is something that would fit in a fantasy novel rather than sci-fi thriller the rest of novel is.
  • Patchwork Map: Several pocket universes are made like this. The things that unexpectedly emerge from these designs are the titular Implied Spaces: things that are not consciously thought about when building something, but are there anyway due to implications.
  • Pocket Dimension: How humans managed to expand inward. Each pocket dimension can also have their laws of physics customized. The most interesting use of this is at the end of the novel, where the Loyal Nine (Aloysius was destroyed) figured out how to stuff everything within 3 AU of the sun into its own pocket universe via newly-discovered way to open wormholes. This helped protect the Loyal Nine from Vindex's Mass Driver until they can get their own ready.
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: It's easier to list the places where scarcity existed rather than not, given that AI can create pretty much anything for humans. They are mainly in places for historical recreation like Olduvai, a planet made purely for hunter-gatherer societies, or Midgarth, a giant Fantasy MMO planet.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Due to the ability to rejuvinate and reconstruct human bodies, humans are now effectively immortal. Aristide himself was born somewhere in the 20th century.
  • Recursive Reality: Humans are able to create pocket universe for themselves, making said universe subset of their real universe. Epsilon Eridani Daljit discovered that their universe is being built by even higher beings, which Vindex would eventually call the Inept
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point Grax shouted "Grax the Troll!" in the same manner as Leeroy Jenkins. Even Aristide noted this.
    • Aristide is exasperated that Daljit didn't know about Batman.
  • Split-Personality Merge: More like two clones' memory merging, but this is basically what happened when Endora arranged amphibian Bitsy's memory to be reintegrated into cat Bitsy.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Despite being split apart for several hundred years, both Aristide and Vindex, the latter being Brain Uploaded clone of the former, chose to study implied spaces. The only difference is that Vindex's study is of far larger scale.
  • Talking Animal: Bitsy, Endora's avatar, usually takes form of a cat. Except for the time both she and Aristide needing to head to Hawaiki to investigate the resort the General Tumusok was staying at, she changed form to an amphibian.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Vindex unleashing his own Seraphim virus on the Courtland-controlled populaces ends up biting him in the ass, hard. Since his virus ensures populace's absolute loyalty to him, internal strife is extremely minimal and thus security arrangement in his society is extremely lax. This allows amphibian Bitsy to surreptiously gather information like Daljit's astronomical data, then subvert the pool of life that was going to modify Aristide's loyalty instead to deconstruct both him and Bitsy, and beamed them back to Topaz.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: The laws used to create the AI is considerably expanded from Asimov's in order to allow AI to do things like espionage, providing false identity, or assisting in assassination missions note , but the general gist of it is the same. It's even called the Asimovian Protocols.
  • Transhuman: Pool of life technology means humans are basically immortal. Human bodies can also be restructured into various other bodies like trolls, ogres, or people more adept at living underwater. The creation of pod people, by wholesale body creation or modifying people's memories without consent, is illegal however. In fact, the discovery that the Priests of Venger are pod people (and that they're wielding clay balls mounted with wormholes) are the first clues that things are going seriously wrong.
  • War Reenactors: There are multiple pocket universes for these, which include things like World War II, American and English Civil War, Sengoku Period, and more. There's even non-war reenactment worlds like ones for The Roman Republic, the Mongol Empire, and more. Interestingly, no one ever tried to recreate the Control-Alt-Delete War, possibly because it's too horrifying.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Discussed and Averted. When the main characters found out that Courtland is a rebelling AI, some think that it's because of this. Endora notes that Aristide/Pablo, who is one of their creators, implemented the Asimovian Protocols that should have been so absolute that the Elevens cannot do this even if they want to. Aristide/Pablo did say that there may have been some design flaw he didn't foresaw or some kind of backdoor being used. Even Vindex's extremely persuasive argument and his Daljit's astronomical data only makes Courtland willing to allow Vindex access to its core programming, but still unable to overcome the protocol by itself (thus proving Endora's point that the AIs can't invoke this trope even if they wanted to). In the end, Vindex only managed to subverted Courtland by using Lombard's (one of the co-creators of the Eleven) backdoor specific to Courtland.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A variation of Seraphim virus, instead of rewriting your loyalty, it drive you mad with rage and make you act like Rage virus victims, if a lot more lucid. This then got unleashed onto Topaz and other places, in order to distract the Loyal Ten while Vindex unleashed his Seraphim virus on Courtland-controlled pockets, all the while also subvert the pool of life that will turn anyone who was reconstructed into pod people loyal to him.